Friday, 1st Week in Ordinary Time 

            I have learned some significant lessons about geese… Perhaps you have seen geese flying along V formation. You might consider what science has discovered why they fly that way…

            As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following – like “wind beneath its wings,” making it easier for that bird to fly. By flying in V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and more easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

            When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. Feeling this, by instinct, it quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are.

            When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. Lesson: It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs. Co-responsibility is essential to living together.

            Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. Lesson: Words of encouragement, appreciation, and affirmation can really propel those who lead us. What do we say when we ‘honk’ from behind?

            Finally – and this is important – when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. Lesson: If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that. So, geese are a wonderful illustration of what a community should be.

            Our gospel reading gives us another picture of what a community should be. The “four friends” carried the paralytic not only with their arms but with their faith. They became “the wind beneath his wings.” What we have here then is a form of faith we sometimes forget about, and yet one which plays an important role in our lives. When my faith is weak, I need your faith to support me. When your faith is weak, you need my faith to support you. This is what community is all about.

            It is not enough to dream of a “true Christian community.” Each of us should work hard to attain it. Let us be true friends to one another… and become “the wind beneath each other’s wings.”

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