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Seeking Success

We look for success but how do we know when we have succeeded? What is our measure of success? What does it even mean to succeed?

Success is to achieve a goal. What is our goal? What is it that we are really trying to achieve?

Ultimately, I think we are looking for fulfillment. The way one might think they have found fulfillment is to be happy.

What fulfills us? What makes us happy?

Some think it comes with money. Then, how much money is enough? Is a salary of $50,000/year enough to be happy? How about $100,000/year? When we get to the salary we thought would make us happy, are we? If not, do we think we just need more money or do we look to something other than money for fulfillment and happiness?

How about having a good home? Is 1,500 square feet enough? 2,000 square feet? Having a good home can be important for happiness but a good home isn’t so much about the building as who lives with us in the house. The building is a house. It’s our family that makes it a home.

We might also seek happiness in jobs, sports, vacations, among other things. However, while these things can bring short-term happiness, they are not what we are created for. Thus, they will not truly fulfill us.

We are created to know God. It is in God that we find fulfillment.

Thus, our first goal should be to know God. As we come to know God, another goal should be to lead others to God. How do we know when we have done this?

One measure of bringing someone to God, is to see them to come to church each Sunday. Another is to see them change their lives to live keeping God’s ways, living chaste lives, loving God and loving their neighbors.

Seeing the change in their lives is a good way for us to see success in trying to bring them to Christ. This is fine for someone we see often. What about someone we don’t see much? We may never know if we have led them to Christ but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

For instance, I see people at funerals that are not from the parish I serve. Does that mean I can’t help them know Jesus? Of course not. I can tell them that Jesus died for their loved one whose funeral we are celebrated. I can tell them about the Resurrection. I can tell them that Jesus died not just for their loved one but also for them. I may never know how it impacted them. I don’t need to. I might like to but it is not for me to know. I place it in God’s hands.

You may never know the real impact of a kind deed, a work of mercy you do in Jesus’ name. Don’t let that stop you from doing acts of mercy.

You see it isn’t for us to save the person ourselves. In fact, just as we cannot save ourselves on our own, we cannot save the other person. It is Jesus who saves us. We just need to show people the way to Jesus. Jesus will then take over and lead them home.

The person may come to know Jesus immediately. It may not happen for years. All we can do is plant seeds.

Not only may we never know if our acts of mercy lead someone to Jesus, we may never know who is lead to Jesus by our example. I may never meet most of the people who read this. That shouldn’t stop me from writing. Likewise, your act of mercy may lead someone to Christ that you will never meet in this world. Do good!

You might wonder how I got from “success” to our impact on strangers (I’m kind of wondering that myself), but it is related. In our individual lives, success is not about money. It is not about the size of our home, or how high up the corporate ladder we climb.

Then, what is success? Here I think about the words of the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in Heaven – Have we come to know God as our Father? Have we led others to know God as their father? (The latter we may never know)

Hallowed be thy name – Do we make God’s name “hallow” by speaking of the great things He has done for us?

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven – Do we work for the building of God’s kingdom? Do we strive to do God’s Will?

Give us this day, our daily bread – Do we turn to God each day for what we need to be good Christians?

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those trespass against us – Do we even realize our sins? When we do sin, do we confess them to God, seeking his forgiveness? Do we forgive others?

And let us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil – Do we realize we cannot beat temptation on our own? Do we surrender ourselves to God who can?

Success? Success is giving our lives to Christ.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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