We’ve been talking a lot about community these days in my Religion classes.
We’ve been discussing what community is exactly, along with its benefits in society and what we receive from our respective communities.
My students and I have been discussing Jean Vanier and his founding and development of L’Arche, an international community fostering inclusion and integration of people with intellectual disabilities.
We’ve also talked about the flight pattern of Canadian geese and how their Flying V behavior represents the solidarity and effectiveness of community and the support of one another within it.
However, we’ve also been talking about our responsibility to give back to our community and not just expect things from it.
At home, our sons have taken a great liking to the kids’ cartoon Paw Patrol and it was during a recent episode that I noticed how those fun-loving and life-saving pups show a lot about God’s community.
Often, the show will start off with all of the dogs playing around together, enjoying a nice break from their rescue work. Suddenly, though, their master Ryder will summon them to their headquarters to inform them of someone in trouble and needing their help.
I notice there are usually just a few dogs included in each mission, simply because only certain duties or responsibilities are helpful at that specific moment.
For instance, when there’s a seal or dolphin struggling out at sea, Zuma heads out on his hovercraft to help Ryder save the day.
If there’s a cat stuck in a tree, Chase can use his megaphone to call for its attention, and then launches his net to retrieve the animal.
Rocky is the master of using recyclable material to create new tools. Rubble loves to crack jokes and is always on hand to dig out of trouble with his bulldozer. Marshall can extinguish fires with his hose and applies his medical skills whenever in need.
Skye handles crisis matters with her helicopter and harness, able to provide air rescue at any time. Everest is the other girl rescue dog, called upon for any emergencies related to snow or ice.
True to one of the Paw Patrol’s many catchphrases, “No job is too big, no pup is too small!”
You see, each dog has gifts that he or she uses to better society around them. While Ryder recognizes each pup can’t solve every problem, he knows they’re all able to contribute in some way and holds them as valuable members of the group – ensuring that collectively, they accomplish their goals.
In other words, as I have shown on a poster in my classroom, no one can do everything but everyone can do something.
I think that in so many ways, our world is like the Paw Patrol and God is calling on every one of us to live out our vocation of serving His will by helping His people.
God has given each of us talents, and it’s our duty to apply them for the greater good in order to realize His plan for us and His world.
For example, a hockey player may not be the best goal scorer, but he can focus on his backchecking or penalty killing abilities to help his team win, knowing there are others on the team more gifted offensively.
While not every student is a talented actor or actress, a high school theatre production is always in need of a good stage crew, make-up artists, program designers and souvenir vendors.
Personally, I would never challenge my wife to a cooking or baking battle. But I do know I can make up for my lack of culinary expertise in other areas, which is why I work so hard to tidy up after meals by doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, wiping the table and taking out the trash.
As taught in Jesus’ parable of the talents, God has given each of us gifts and expects us to use, develop and share them with those around us. (Matthew 25:14-30)
Doing so makes others better while we learn and grow from them in return, enriching our community in the process.
So as we live each day seeking to find our purpose on earth, may we discover opportunities to give God glory and to give back to His community by simply doing our part the best we can.