“WHAT would you do to be global citizens, to improve communities, to act locally but think globally? This was one of the challenging questions of Kofi A. Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, as he spoke to UCLA students, staff, and guests during the annual Laskin Lecture in Royce Hall last Thursday night. It was a provocative and an inspiring question. Many college students who are filled with idealism must have felt the nudge to do something to make a better world.
Kofi Annan urged students to be involved in public service. “If all the smart ones stay out of politics, who’s going to do legislation for us?” the Former Secretary-General remarked. He then shared his peacekeeping works in war-torn countries around the globe, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. He also shared his continuing global concerns: the Middle East, Afghanistan, the climate change, the greening of economy, youth employment, and economics. He asked all of us listeners to dialogue with global communities, to embrace diversity, to break barriers, to fight poverty and gender inequality, and to find opportunities to travel across continents to know, appreciate, and to bond with other people.
“We are so interrelated,” he reminded all of us, listeners of his lecture, which revealed the heart of a humble man that is filled with genuine concern for all people. Isn’t this what we’re all called to be, I told myself while I mused on his lecture. At times, we seem to do a lot of navel watching, self-preoccupied with our personal needs and those of our organization. We get stuck into a rhythm of self-absorption; we can’t think beyond the boundaries of our selves or our organizations. This is one of the reasons why we experience a meaningless and non-driven life, why we lose zeal and zest for life and for pursuing personal careers and vocations.
It’s true what Jesus said in the Gospel. It is in giving of our self that we receive. It is in losing our life that we save it. It is in being the least of all that we become first in the Kingdom of God.
As we, Catholics, celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy and Blood of Christ, popularly known as the Feast of Corpus Cristi, let us think of this solemnity not merely as the eating and drinking of the Eucharistic elements, but as living the total self-giving of Christ for the whole world. The illustrious spiritual writer, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, reminds us that “the Eucharist is not a private devotional prayers, but is rather a communal act of worship which, among other things, calls us to go forth and live out in the world what we celebrate inside of a church, namely, the non-importance of social distinction, the special place that God gives to the tears and blood of the poor, and non-negotiable challenge of God to each of us to work at changing conditions that cause tears and blood.”
Kofi A. Annan may not know that as he is fulfilling his peacekeeping mission around the globe, he is breaking bread and sharing cup with us and proclaiming the death and the resurrection of Christ our Lord. He is doing what we’re all supposed to do: to be bread: broken , blessed, and shared for the whole world, and to shed blood so others may live!
* * *
Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas attended St. John Seminary in Camarillo, California and earned his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. For twenty years, he has been in the parish ministry of large multi-cultural communities. Since 2002, he has been the pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Los Angeles. Please email Fr. Rodel at firstname.lastname@example.org.