Be thankful for the true significant people in our lives

By EDMUND ADAMUS, Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster

The other day I came across a rather witty set of questions entitled “The Charles Schulz Philosophy”, written by the creator of character Charlie Brown and the Peanuts comic strip. I am paraphrasing them here below and somewhat Anglicising them, but if you’ve never seen them before, read them through, answering them in your mind.

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Open Golf trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the best actor from BAFTA.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Cup football winners.

How did you do? Maybe you recalled one or two names or more… The point is, none of us really remember the headliners of yesterday and yesteryear very much. And these are no second-rate achievers. They tend to be the best in their fields. But the applause dies… awards tarnish… achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners even if their loved ones keep them to cherish.

So here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel really appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier? I imagine so and it’s not difficult to appreciate why when you think about it, because the people who make a real and lasting difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards or achievements in the eyes of the world. They are the ones who care the most.

In truth for many of us (though not all to be fair), those who make us feel loved, come what may, are family and friends. They are, without being aware of it, and perhaps without any conscious intention of it, true missionaries of mercy towards us. And sometimes they can be prodigal in their love and acceptance of us despite all our sins and weakness and unfulfilled little (and big) promises to them.

So in this Year of Mercy, let us be truly thankful for the ones who love and accept us regardless, just because we are who we are and that’s good enough for them, even though they would sometimes have a legitimate desire for us to be an all-round better person.

And in our turn, in praying to God in thanksgiving for them, let us invoke His Mercy upon them, in return for His mercy and compassion that we have received in generous measure from their hearts. And perhaps go one step further, and actually tell them how much we appreciate their gestures of love and forgiveness towards us.

This post was originally published in the Diocese of Westminster’s Office of Marriage and Family Life newsletter, as part of Edmund’s Friday FAST (Family Actions, Spirituality Thoughts)