Dear Parish Family:
I caught myself using the very euphemistic phrase “those less fortunate” in an announcement in this week’s Bulletin when thanking the people who participated in giving Christmas gifts through the REAP Giving Tree. Upon thinking about that, I decided I really have neither the ability nor the desire to accurately judge the fortune of people whom I do no know, so I changed the phrase to the far more honest “other people.”
It is important to remember — to remind ourselves, and to remind each other — that a person’s true fortune cannot be measured in material goods. After all, isn’t a young couple newly married and working hard to establish themselves and yet possessing few luxuries and maybe even lacking some necessities fortunate in a true sense of the word?
I remember when Katei and I were a young couple and had only recently come to Kansas City hoping to find jobs; we relied on the charity of Katei’s sister to give us a place to live until we could find work. Were we homeless? Perhaps not in the classic sense, but we weren’t all that far away from it either. It took time to find work — the economy wasn’t all that good then, either, and it was when you still had to go through classified ads looking for something that might fit; there was no such thing as careerbuilder.com or online applications.
Katei found a job before I did. When she did, we filled the car with gas and went to Winstead’s, where we spent the last $5 we had on a Skyscraper Malt that we shared to celebrate. We were truly broke until that first paycheck came in… and then we both started getting paychecks, and then things changed. At no point, though, do I think we became more fortunate. Our true fortune is found in the gift God has given us of each other; material trappings are perhaps nice, but they pale in comparison to any true standard of what it means to be fortunate and to be blessed by God.