Craving the Good News

A friend and I were out not long ago to catch up over some wings and, as is always the case, we got to talking about sports.

This time, however, we weren’t discussing recent trades or exciting playoff matchups. We weren’t even quizzing each other on various sports trivia, which we typically do.

No, we were sharing thoughts about some recent human interest stories featuring athletes and their benevolent actions with fans.

A local professional hockey player had recently surprised some kids by hopping out of his vehicle after they had asked their dad to honk the horn as they passed him on the road. As if meeting one of their hockey idols wasn’t enough, the player proceeded to sign some sticks from his trunk and give them to the awed youngsters.

More still, the player insisted on bringing them and their father to the team’s arena, where they posed for pictures and he gave them even more team paraphernalia.

Athletes Doing KindnessIn an unrelated story, one of the player’s teammates had shocked a group of young hockey players with developmental disabilities by attending their season-end banquet – despite playing a game at the same time as the team’s festivities were being held.

After scoring the winning goal in overtime, the player hurried through post-game interviews and other commitments, showered and hustled over to the team’s banquet at a hotel elsewhere in the city.

While he could have celebrated his team’s dramatic victory in far more glorious style and with far more recognizable company, it was imperative for him and his wife that they attend this banquet. After all, for the last five years, he has proudly served as honorary captain for this team of kids with special needs and he wasn’t going to let them down.

The last example my friend and I marveled over detailed how a professional football player had desperately posted a request on his social media pages for a ride to his team’s stadium – located hours away from the airport where he had landed.

The player, needing to attend team training activities, had learned his connecting flight was delayed and no rental cars were available to transport him. After a pair of brothers generously answered the plea and made the four-hour drive in the middle of the night, the player not only covered gas expenses, but also insisted they come into the stadium for a tour, autographs and pictures with famous team memorabilia.

Reviewing these stories, my friend and I couldn’t help but comment on the rare media exposure of positive news.

While we grow so accustomed in society to learning about celebrities caught in scandal and watch news broadcasts fill with depressing negativity centered on violence, drugs and selfishness, it is so refreshing to have uplifting news garner so much attention.

Just as coverage of these stories illustrates, the practice of Jesus’ Gospel should be highlighted much more, in order that more people can be encouraged to live His Golden Rule, ensuring everyone is treated with love, dignity and respect.

My friend and I concluded today’s society seems to need these seeds of joy planted and promoted far more often than they generally are.

Not only that, when observing today’s world, one could suggest we crave the Lord’s Good News, as if we cannot survive without it.

St Augustine 2In his teachings, St. Augustine wrote and preached about humanity’s quest for God, a search for complete meaning and true happiness in life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, a summary of the Church’s beliefs and teachings, takes that concept one step further, identifying our desire for God as being written in our hearts, since we are made by God and for Him. (CCC # 27)

As God is the source of ultimate good and He never stops drawing us near to Him, only in God can we find the truth and happiness we constantly yearn for in our lives.

Put another way, it’s as if we have been wired like a computer, having a DNA chip of goodness and happiness planted within us.

Computer ChipAs creations of God in His image, we are programmed for joy, generosity, righteousness and love.

Think about it. When you were young, what did you want to be when you were older?

Many children name careers like doctor or astronaut, firefighter or ballerina. No matter the choice, they all tend to be positive and productive, healthy for one’s self and society.

It’s not by accident that no right-thinking person dreams of becoming a drug dealer, bank robber or murderer, because their heart fundamentally desires goodness, just as God designed.

Perhaps along life’s road, some people veer from God’s path, similar to a computer malfunctioning and needing wiring adjustment.

With this in mind, may we always model and share Jesus’ Good News, encouraging those around us to continue seeking the true desires of their heart so that we may all discover complete happiness and fulfillment.

The Real Cake Boss

Every year, our school puts on a cake sale as a community fundraiser, raising money to benefit local, national and international organizations in need.

Each class is expected to provide a cake – either purchased or baked – which is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, determined by money raised in each homeroom.

It’s an exciting tradition that helps rally the school together and boost spirit among students and staff alike. Really, it’s a win-win scenario; we all get to enjoy some delicious cake while doing a good deed and helping people who are underprivileged.

The timing of this year’s cake auction coincided perfectly with a particular unit of study in one of my Religious Education classes.

Discussing God’s mysterious ways and His master plan for us, I introduced the topic by sharing with my students a presentation about a mother’s famous cake.

In my demonstration, a daughter returns home from school very upset one day, having failed a math test while later learning her boyfriend had dumped her for her best friend.

Feeling her life as she knew it is over, the girl’s mother suggests baking a tasty dessert in order to cheer up her teenaged girl.

Cake 1First, the mom offers some vegetable oil for her daughter to taste, prompting instant disgust as a reaction.

Next, some raw eggs are presented, shocking the daughter all the more.

Then, the mom encourages her to eat some baking flour, at which point the girl rejects her in complete confusion.

The mother proceeds to show her daughter that, while all of the cake ingredients may not be very appetizing on their own, they combine to form a delicious masterpiece in the end.

Similarly, God shows us how life can be very much like a cake and its ingredients.

Cake 3While we may experience hardships and terrible disappointments, we do not always realize at the time how these can be stepping stones on the path to something great that God has in store for us.

We don’t necessarily appreciate how God is arranging everything together so that we can learn, grow and savor all the goodness He has planned in our future.

For instance, a failed test can spur modified study habits that eventually lead to honor roll status at the end of the semester. A relationship breakup can lead to ultimately meeting someone new with whom we can develop a beautiful romance.

You see, with God, any setback in our lives is merely a setup for a comeback.

As long as we call on the Lord and place our full trust in Him, life’s true master chef will take all of our difficulties and frustrations, our worries and our fears, and convert them into wonderful opportunities. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

But therein lies the rub.

For this to occur, God requires our complete faith in Him, asking us to give unconditional devotion – something we are not always prepared or willing to do.

Jesus teaches true happiness is obtained through loving God with our entire heart, soul, mind and strength, while loving all others as ourselves. (Luke 10:27)

This, it would appear, serves as the basis for a perfect recipe for a strong, healthy relationship with God and all of His children.

Mixing in elements such as the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, along with other key ingredients like patience, discipline, humility and wisdom, God shares with us another cake we would be smart to eat.

Following baking instructions such as the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Golden Rule, we are shown exactly how to live a life rooted in prosperity.

Cake 2So, the next time you attend a birthday party or some other celebration where cake is served, may you feel encouraged to dive right in and enjoy a big piece.

You can do so knowing God is at work, organizing all of your challenges and troubles so they may become blessings of promise.

And while you won’t gain any weight sampling God’s cake, you can be sure you will gain an abundance of joy – both in the short and long term.