A number of years ago, my family attended the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Winifred Parish in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. We used to be parishioners there, and I started my teaching career at St. Winifred School. It’s my mother-in-law’s parish now, so going there to celebrate liturgy, especially on Easter, brings back memories of cantoring there, as well as the baptism of our children. Fr. Kevin Dominik, the pastor at the time, gave a great homily where he encouraged everyone to sing “ALLELUIA!” since, after all, we are an Alleluia people!
During the readings of the Vigil Mass, however, I was struck by the sense of joyful fear that the women at the tomb felt when they saw the angel and the stone rolled away – even though a seal was fixed upon it, as we heard in the readings of Good Friday. It reminded me of this story.
In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king, indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many never understand – every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.
What is our reaction to an obstacle to our plans for our schools? Frustration? Complaint? Circumvention? When this nation was constructing its system of railways and its interstate highways, sometimes the builders could “go around the mountain;” but many times, mountains had to be moved or tunnel created.
For instance, what if you have come to realize that one or two open houses per year just isn’t enough to generate the amount of traffic necessary to fill your Kindergarten program for the next year, and decide that Wednesdays are Open House Days for the rest of the school year. Will you receive a lot of resistance? Absolutely – especially from your teachers and staff. But if you’re convinced this is a great way to generate additional inquiries and therefore enrollments for your school, you then have to make a plan in order to make it happen and have everyone buy in to it. What are the advantages? The school will espouse hospitality as one of its values; teachers and staff will have to make sure all is clean and in order not only just a couple of times a year – but EVERY WEEK; children will have to be polite and exercise courtesy and helpfulness. Sounds like we’re putting things that should be done into action, and not just talking about them. Is it a lot of work? Yes – at least for the first few weeks…but when such practices become part of the routine – rather, discipline – these actions will spill over into other areas, and create even more positive “buzz” in the community about your school.
If we are doing the Lord’s work, it’s still easy to complain about the obstacles that are in our paths. Remember, even Jesus called Peter, “Satan.” A “satan” is not evil incarnate, but an obstacle. Peter is a rock, but sometimes a rock in our shoe is not a pleasant experience. Our work is to remove the big boulders, the little rocks, and roll away the stones. The key word in those last two sentences is “work.” Sometimes we have to lay aside, dare I say, lay down, what we are doing, and are more interested in doing, in order to take care of the obstacles that keep us from achieving the vision. As Jesus shows us, however, the reward for doing so is an incredible one.
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008-2018 (Original Publication Date: 20080324)