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What saints and scholars say about how to make the world better


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Tom Hoopes - published on 06/07/21

God has a plan to change things, and we each have a part in it.

God has a master plan to change the world, and we each have a place in it. All we need to do is live the basic vocation of every Christian: Love Jesus Christ as God and love our neighbors as Jesus Christ. 

We know the way Jesus put it: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Here are some ways great saints and thinkers put it.

C.S. Lewis put it this way: We live in a society of “possible gods and goddesses.”

“The dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship,” he said in his essay The Weight of Glory, “or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.”

In fact, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal,” he said.  “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

You live surrounded by icons of Christ, waiting for you to serve him through them.

That means the key to fulfilling God’s will on earth is loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Start by loving yourself — because you, too, are an icon of Christ. St. Thérèse of Lisieux said that when we hear that we are worthless or unlovable, we are listening to demons.

“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you — for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart,” she said. “Don’t listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to the Jesus of peace and love.” 

St. John Paul II said even when we feel small, we are great. “Compared to the immensity of the universe, man is very small, and yet this very contrast reveals his greatness: ‘You have made him little less than a god, and crown him with glory and honor.’” That includes you.

God is counting on your response.

St. John Henry Newman pointed out that, no matter who you are, God needs you in his plan to reach others. “God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission,” he said. “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.”

If that makes you freeze up with fear, don’t let it.

St. Edith Stein, the Carmelite nun who took the name Benedicta of the Cross, saw the same thing — but said not to worry if your vocation seems to have gone unfulfilled today. “And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with him.”

The more you love, even in a small way, the brighter the world becomes.

Your smallest service will have enormous results. Our small words and gestures can bring great change.

We each know from personal experience that hurtful words or actions can wound for a lifetime — it is all the more true that loving words and actions can change lives.

“Look around us,” said Pope Francis. “It is enough to open a newspaper … we see the presence of evil, the devil is acting. However, I would like to say out loud: God is stronger! Do you believe this, that God is stronger? Let us say it together, let us say it all together: God is stronger!”

“Our times, dark and marked by evil, can change, if we first bring the light of the Gospel especially through our lives.” In an enormous stadium, he said, “if someone turns on a light, you can barely see it but if the other 70,000 spectators turn on their own light, the whole stadium shines. Let our lives together be the one light of Christ; together we will carry the light of the Gospel to the whole of reality.”

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