Fr. Mike Paraniuk
Fr. Mike Paraniuk
By Fr. Mike Paraniuk
St. Mary Catholic Church
and St. Benignus Catholic Church

On Sept. 10, 1946 Mother Teresa was riding on a train from Calcutta to the Himalayan foothills to make a retreat. During that trip, the Lord spoke to her.

He told her to give up teaching and work in the slums of Calcutta with the poorest and sickest people: the most unwanted, unloved and uncared for people on earth. When she was asked what kept her motivated to keep working in the slums, she told a story about her mother.

When she was a little girl, her mother taught her about Jesus. Mother told Teresa the teaching of Jesus can be summarized on five fingers. She held up five fingers and assigned a word to each one. “You did it for Me."

These five words gave Mother Teresa the strength to do everything she did for the outcasts lying on Calcutta’s filthy streets.

So the next time you face a situation where you are tempted to be impatient or mean, where you are tempted to act unkindly or inconsiderate, where you are tempted to be selfish or uncaring, or where you are tempted to be judgmental and unloving, look at the fingers of your open hand. Hold them up and remember “You did it for Me.”

Every time you do good by showing mercy and compassion, putting away prejudice, respecting the dignity of all people and working toward peace, you do that for God as well.

What scares me most about my judgment is I will find out all my omissions to do something good for the Lord, either through laziness, fear or selfishly choosing comfort. I offer a story to explain.

Hillsboro High School has been wanting me to broadcast their bowling games from Highland Lanes on WLRU – and they want me to do the announcing. Highland Lanes proprietor Dale Martin wanted this because he felt it would be good for the young bowlers.

He was so committed he bought all the equipment for the broadcast. Our engineer, LaRue, set everything up, but I was having second thoughts. I started making up excuses in my mind, “I’ve never done this before. What if mess up?” or “This is a lot of work. How will I get my sermon done?” or “It’s not very comfortable talking for three straight hours.” But the Lord stepped in. He told me to suck it up, stop whining and do this broadcast for the kids.

And I did.

It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I was able to use all the knowledge I gained from watching bowing for 60 years on TV for this radio broadcast. I sounded like a professional bowling announcer, though I never did this before. The enthusiasm and team spirit of the 72 bowlers competing from five high schools was contagious. It kept me talking for three straight hours – even with a hoarse voice toward the end.

After interviewing the bowlers and their coaches, a participant told me something that cut me to the heart. He said, “Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us. Putting us on your radio station made all of us feel important. That feels real good.”

I felt glad I didn’t deny someone the chance to feel “real good.”

Wow. I was surprised how much this meant. In our judgment before God, we will all be surprised how even the smallest act of kindness or the refusal of it will make a difference. It matters. Mother Teresa said, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

Let’s make God happier, too.