As a former fat kid, I rather like today's reading. When I was in junior high, I was frequently the last-picked kid for any team. I don't blame the other kids, to be sure: I was pretty lousy! Nevertheless, I know something of what it feels like to be the last one in, the one who never quite "gets it" with everyone else. As a student, I must admit, I was never the smartest or the quickest in the class, either: there was always someone better than me at just about everything!
For a long while, I think allowed myself to be complacent. I settled, figuring that if I couldn't get onto the team, or get the highest grade, that I'd just find myself in the middle somewhere. At no time, though, do I recall ever thinking that there was something that I was missing or losing out on...I just sort of went with the flow, too indolent to even try to imagine a different situation.
As I grew older and started to become more aware of my surroundings, I saw that the men who were happiest and most joyful, vibrant and effervescent, were the Jesuits teaching at my school. I didn't know what I wanted to be in terms of a profession, but I did know that I wanted to be happy. Knowing this, knowing that I wanted abiding joy in my life, I watched them intently for a common thread. Again and again, I saw that what animated them and the college professors I later studied with was a deep and abiding passion for their faith. Their passion enkindled in me a similar passion, one that led me to take up my own mat and to walk with them as a fellow Companion of Jesus.
I am most parents worst nightmare in terms of career counseling for their sons. I do not tell them to be doctors or attorneys or CPA's or MBA's. Instead, I challenge them to find what it is that will bring them great joy, great challenges, and great love. I have the honor of teaching so many wonderful young men that I often find myself praying that some of them will find the spark that drives me beginning to enkindle in them a similar passion to be a Companion of Jesus. I can pray, at least! Yet I take seriously the advice my father gave me many years ago: "Whatever you study, love it enough to teach it." This advice has not brought me earthly riches, but it has graced me with tremendous adventures and such a great joy that I would be remiss if I did not share it with those around me.