Have you noticed how certain words or expressions are used used repeatedly lately? I can think of three right away: uptick, unprecedented, and game-changer. I listen to the news channels a lot, so that might be the reason these terms seem to me to be so popular.
Uptick means a slight increase in something—for example, the number of cases of an illness, highway accidents, or instances of crime. The word seems to catch my ear, especially when I think of the hot weather and the increased danger of tick bites. While unrelated to that association, uptick gets the news across in a succinct way. We get the message that the problem is not extremely large but is something to be watched.
Unprecedented is one of those “50-cent” words with 13 letters and attention-getting emphasis. It implies that nothing like what it describes has happened in the past. The unprecedented event is unique. It comes with an implied: “Wow!” from observers.
Game-changer doesn’t refer to sporting events so much as to strategies and breakthroughs that change the way things are done. The word gets our attention because it leads us to look for who is the “winner” in whatever process, or “game,” is involved.
The gospel reading, Luke 10:25-37, for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, which we just heard, contains another term we have heard many times: neighbor. Recently, we have been hearing on the news that Ukrainians have taken refuge in the neighboring country of Poland. We have heard references to the television personality, the late Fred Rogers, who would sing “Won’t you be my neighbor?” to his audience of youngsters.
And, of course, we know of the commandment to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is used by Jesus to expand our definition of neighbor. With modern internet technology, our neighbor can be very far away from us geographically. Thanks to satellites, electronics, and all kinds of wires, we can have neighbors all around the world and communicate with them very quickly. With all these opportunities for connecting to others comes the challenge to share love and the good news of Jesus Christ through words, donations, and kind attention.
Let us pray that we will be more mindful of the unprecedented power we have available through the Holy Spirit to love our many neighbors both near and far. Little by little, day by day, we can provide an uptick of charity that can be a real game-changer!
St. Peter’s words can prompt our prayer:
For this reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue
with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance,
endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.
If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or
unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 5-8)