Find God on Gannon’s Campus

The week before spring break and mid-terms is upon us.  The many hours that we spend searching for the definitions and formulas to strengthen our mind for the exam will be fruitless if we do not have a focus or end in sight for the application of the material.

When I was in elementary school, the pastor, a good priest, father Edward Dellar, would take the time to hand out our report cards.

Father sat at the desk calling each of us by name, one by one. The anxiety of the moment was great for a student who was eager to get the grades.

One particular instance during fourth grade is one I’ll remember more than the rest.

“The grades you have all received are exceptional – congratulations,” he said. “But what I want you to remember is this: It’s the other side that’s important.’”

We all turned over our cards and looked at the marks on that side.

Surely Father is losing his mind we thought as all that was on that side were marks recording tardiness, participation, willingness to work, follows direction, completes assignments, and some other areas that didn’t mean much to a fourth grader.

Father went on to tell us that the marks on this side are more important than the grades in a subject area. That’s when he spelled it out, and I will never forget his words.

“The true value of a person is in his rising from a fall,” he said. “Like Christ and with Christ, we will fall and the tools we need to get back up are covered on that side of your report card.”

The message hit home with a fourth grader – wow, I can get rewards for my grades on that side too.

It wasn’t until years later that I got the value of the message.

The society we live in is largely based on credentials.

What degree do you have? What is your background? Where did you complete your education? Who are you family members? What experience do you have? And there is a litany of other visible and researchable criteria that can be judged.

I often think of the choices that Jesus made in choosing his group of apostles.  I wonder if he thought about Mathew’s accomplishments. I wonder if he asked about Nathaniel’s background. How did Jesus evaluate Peter, who would later become the first Pope.

His whole community did not consist of the cream of the crop. If you placed Christ’s followers against the back drop of the criteria we use today, our tradition and history would be very different.

This week as you and I prepare to place a few more notches in our academic belt let’s try to remember the real issue regarding our credentials while striving to focus on the complete picture.  In the end, we die to this world. The academic achievements will not get us into heaven.

ROB LOPEZ

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