There’s a popular expression: ‘What goes around, comes around’. It’s slang for ‘You reap what you sow'. In my experience, however, the phrase is invariably used negatively, as a warning, a lesson drawn from a cautionary tale. Thomas à Kempis put it more positively: “Whatsoever is done out of pure love, be it ever so little or contemptible in human sight, is wholly fruitful; for God measures more with how much love you work, than the amount you do.” It is safe to argue that Thomas gave much more weight to a small act that is driven by love, than to one which may be larger but is devoid of any semblance of love.
There’s a simple lesson we can draw from this: never underestimate the amount of good that one humble, kind word or deed can do. But there’s a more significant lesson, one that goes even further: that goodness is more infectious than evil. Saint Augustine teaches us that, in the end, what’s wrong with evil is that it won’t finally exist; it may inflict unimaginable pain on us or our loved ones, or it may destroy us and our families, but it is of no lasting purchase or value. Good, on the other hand, is a token or signifier of what will last forever. Good forever triumphs over evil. I am yet to watch a movie or hear a story which didn’t ultimately conclude with a triumph of the best of us - the good.
One of the headaches of any parent is the possibility of their child falling into bad company. This worrying stems from the belief that evil is infectious and that by keeping the wrong company, it is likely that a child may end up being one. But the inspiring thing about Thomas a Kempis’ words is this: it’s not evil that’s infectious, it’s good. A good deed or gesture is like a mark in indelible ink: once made, it can never be eradicated. It’s written in the blood of Christ. A good deed is like one of those markers with which a child from Lake Elkhorn Middle School will inscribe his or her name on a paper, a notebook, or a textbook. That is why this particular week has become a moment of pride for me.
Over the past year, we have seen a significant increase in the outreach by members of Christ Church to Lake Elkhorn Middle School. Some of us, for example, participate in the mentorship program and help with homework. Christ Church also provides gift cards to incentivize parents, and supplies snacks for parent workshops on a monthly basis.
Beginning with this coming school year, we hope to extend our outreach by supporting teacher and staff celebrations, and to honor them on their birthdays. This will be our attempt to extend the depth of our appreciation to those teachers and staff who give their best in this life-transforming work.
I remain extremely thankful to all of you for your generosity, support and dedication. It fills me with the deepest joy to know that our parish family will be providing LEMS with one hundred and fifty backpacks stuffed with all the necessary school supplies required by the Howard County Public School System. This is such an incredible feat for our congregation and, as I said in my sermon last Sunday, we are not obligated to undertake this task but rather we are willing and happy to support the children because we believe in God’s future for each child. Similarly, we also affirm this idea that good is infectious, and that the good which goes around comes around.
With almost all of our shopping concluded, we will all gather as a community to meticulously stuff seventy-five of the backpacks each on the Sundays of August 18th and 25th, from 9:15-10:15 a.m., filling them with all of the necessary supplies. I have no doubt in my mind that you would want to be a part of this exciting moment in our common life, and hope that you'll join us.
Good IS infectious, and the good that goes around, does surely come around. For me, the most important thing is the smile that lights up a child’s face because of the goodness or kindness of an adult. That is what drives me - that a kid can tell that someone - a stranger - cares so much about him or her.
Always remember that the good you do is the most viable and visible way in which God uses you to perfect His creation. And that the good, which is infectious, has the ability to light up a child’s world. I've learned that every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day.
May you be that something... may you all continue to be infectious.