Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Follow Me

Stop, look, listen... and do something

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

June 22, 2016

Bishop LaValley’s address to 2016 graduates of Immaculate Heart Central School in Watertown June 18

When I’m home, I try to go out jogging around noontime.  A couple of weeks ago I was out pounding the pavement, when I came up to a place on my route where I had to run under a garden hose.  You see, it was strung out between an upstairs window and the street.

As I ran under it on the sidewalk, a pleasant lady stood at the door of her house and told me that her huge waterbed upstairs had sprung a serious leak and there was water almost up to her knees in her bedroom.  (You can tell that I don’t run terribly fast, in order for me to hear her whole story while I was in motion.)  I wished her luck in the cleanup and kept up my pace.  

Maybe it was because I didn’t have enough oxygen in my brain or a lack of charity in my heart, but as I kept running, it dawned on me that I never stopped to offer the woman any assistance she might need.  I never thought to ask, can I help?  Instead, I just wished her luck and kept running, after all I had a schedule to keep.

While we are in school, we get our lessons and then receive the tests.  When we leave school and get into the world, we’re tested first and then learn the lesson later. Here was a moment that I got the test and flunked. 
The lesson:  pay attention to the people you encounter.   Oh, I later rationalized:  the hose was already in place delivering water to the street below, the lady didn’t ask for help and didn’t seem to need it.  She was just standing at her door talking to me - but I never asked her if I could help her with anything.
Graduates, it is good and very necessary to stay focused, to be self-disciplined in running the race, in working towards the goal you set.  But life, more often than not, intrudes and we can’t just say, “Oh well, good luck, see you later, I’ve got to tend to my own affairs.”

You see, when life, particularly the lives of others, seems to get in the way of our plans, we are presented with encounters where growth, grace, and challenges can occur - in those unplanned moments of life. Such interruptions need never be a waste of our time.  Even speed bumps serve a good purpose.  It’s during those moments that character is developed, faith witnessed and Jesus encountered. 

What you’ve learned here, at Immaculate Heart Central, helps you to recognize these as moments of opportunity, times to: STOP, LOOK and LISTEN and then…do something.  It’s too easy today for you and me to find excuses to dismiss the needs of others because we are busy about our own affairs.  It smacks of insensitivity and a real self-centered way of looking at life.

Interruptions to our plans can be occasions when we pay closer attention to our neighbor. We have become so me-centered, so independent, so driven to succeed (however, we might measure it), so focused on our cell-phones and personal agendas, that frankly, the world is passing us by and we become oblivious to so much. 
We must do more than touch - we must feel!  Do more than look - see!  Do more than read - absorb!  Do more than hear - listen! Do more than listen - understand! We must do more than understand - we must CARE!

Graduates, I know that the IHC community has equipped you well for your tomorrows.  Your parents and families, your parishioners, have sacrificed much so that you might be standing here on this stage this afternoon.

We congratulate you as you reach this important milestone in your young lives.  So many possibilities lie before you.  Don’t let the cynics or naysayers distract you from moving forward with great determination, energy and hope-filled joy. I pray that as you embark on the next exciting phase of your life, you continue to pay attention and care for those persons who the Lord places unexpectedly before you.  Count them as all graced opportunities to see a face of Christ.

Graduates, as we congratulate you today, my prayer for each of you is that as we continue to celebrate this Jubilee Year of Mercy, you may take the time to be Mercy in Motion on whatever road your life’s journey takes you.  God bless you!

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.