You can give me nothing in return

It is truly amazing how often you will hear the gentle whisperings of God’s Voice if you but only listen. Admittedly, it takes an open mind and an attentive ear, but if you keep God always in your heart and on your mind you will hear it.

Pay it Forward

Pay it Forward

A few days after penning last week’s article, I was performing some intense channel-surfing when I came across the showing of Pay It Forward, a wonderful, touching movie released in 2000, starring Haley Joel Osment, Helen Hunt, and Kevin Spacey, and based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The movie is set in Las Vegas, where Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey), a seventh grade social studies teacher gives his class an assignment to develop an idea that would change the world for the better and then put that idea into action. Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) comes up with a plan he calls “Pay It Forward” which calls for him to do a favor or help three people, with the stipulation that they pay it forward by each doing favors or helping three other people, along an ever-expanding tree of good deeds.

Watching the movie again so soon after writing about what we can do to help resolve seemingly intractable global problems caused me to experience a serious “hitch in my gittalong” and if it wasn’t God talking, you will find it difficult if not impossible convincing me otherwise.

We all, at some point in our life, hesitate and stop ourselves from moving forward, often because what we face appears to be impossibly difficult or frighteningly unknown. Our first and immediate response is to say “NO! I can’t do that! It is impossible!” But as I have heard far too many times in my life “Cain’t never did nuthin!

pay-it-forward-3Reflecting on the message I received from watching the movie made me realize that it truly is as simple as paying it forward, rather than giving back. If you give something with the expectation of receiving something in return (quid quo pro) then you will often be disappointed and will quickly become disillusioned in the process.

What is so compelling with the concept of paying it forward is that it is not a new concept at all. The originator of the idea of “Pay It Forward” lived some two-thousand years ago and he favored us with his death on the cross to save us from our brokenness. Read the Gospels and you will find nothing but example after example of how Jesus was always paying it forward. His entire life and public ministry are testimony to the concept. Nowhere will you find an instance where Jesus asked for anything in return for doing something good for another.

There have been many others. Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world” and he was and he did. Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one” and she changed the world. Albert Einstein changed our understanding of the universe yet admitted that “a life lived for others, is the only life worth living.”

Whenever you believe you have no power to change the world then just remember these words: “Together we can change the world, one good deed at a time.”[1]

[1] Pay It Forward Organization Motto.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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