Reflection on the Readings and Making a Stand
In the midst of preparation for my move one week from today, I'm taking a break to share a reflection on today's readings with our retired Sisters at their communion service. Here's what I'll be sharing with them:
When 8 year old Vivienne Harr starts school this year, she will have a great tale of "What she did this summer."
Like many 2nd graders, she's been running a lemonade stand with a little help from her mom and dad. But this isn't just any lemonade stand. She's been at her stand everyday, with a goal of raising $150,000 for Not for Sale, an ngo that works to stop human trafficking. She calls her lemonade "Make a Stand Lemonade: The Sweet Taste of Freedom," and she makes it from fair trade lemons. So far, she's raised $30,000!
How did she make so much money? First, through faithfulness. She spent everyday of her summer vacation at the stand, rain or shine. Second, through faith in the generosity of her neighbors. At first she charged $2 per glass. But then she thought, what if I leave it up to my customers what to pay? The average price went up to $18 when she made it free.
Vivienne was inspired to make a stand when she attended an art exhibit with her family that featured photos of child slaves. She decided to do something and started with what she knew ... lemonade.
Vivienne inspires me. If you watch her video on You Tube, you might be inspired too. "Gandhi was one person," she says. "Martin Luther King was one person. Mother Theresa was one person. Why can't you be one person who helps?"
In a way, Vivienne is the opposite of the Prince of Tyre in our first reading (Ezekiel 28: 1-10). Let's flip the words around to fit Vivienne:
By your wisdom and intelligence, you have made riches for others.
You have put gold and silver in the treasuries of enslaved people.
By your great wisdom applied to your trading, you have shared your riches.
Your heart has grown bigger from your sharing.
Vivienne seems to intuitively know what it means for the first to be last and the last to be first, like we hear in today's Gospel (Matthew 19: 23-30). This small little girl. By contrast, the camel is a very large animal. When Jesus talks about the camel and the eye of the needle, he could be speaking literally. But the "eye of the needle" could also describe the narrow and low gate of the city walls, used by travellers after dark when the main gate was locked. Vivienne might fit through this small gate. We would have to bend over. A camel would have to kneel, squeeze tight, and crawl through.
Through being her small self with a big heart, Vivienne in many ways embodies what Jesus is talking about. She's discovered valuable lessons on the way.
I'd like to finish with Vivienne's own words (typed on her blog by her father) about what she's discovered this summer sitting at her lemonade stand.
"I have discovered a lot.
I have discovered that there are a lot of kids, about my age, who do not get the life I get, who are scared, who need hope.
I have discovered that my heart feels the most full when I give.
I have discovered that even though we hear a lot about the bad, the world is mostly good, most people are kind and supportive, and want what's right.
I have discovered that the more I do this, the more I make a stand, the stronger I get.
Thank you for making a stand with me."