These days, there are four words that are a sure way to get a reaction: “make America great again.” What kind of reaction? The “whys” “whats” and “wherefores” of the reaction, well, that is for another time and place. Like many slogans it is meant to point to some narrative beyond itself, to a larger story, to provide meaning, purpose, and destiny to this life.
It seems to me that at the heart of it all is the word “great.” We use it a lot. “Have a great day.” “That’s great news!” “She a great person.” There are lots of other uses, but what makes a person great? Many times, we borrow the personal attribute and assign it to an individual because of their actions and achievements. Some call Tom Brady of the New England Patriots football team the GOAT – greatest of all time. While his on-field performance would certainly qualify him for the moniker, GOAT, in the realm and history of football quarterbacks, do those accomplishments make him great? Michael Phelps is a candidate for the GOAT of swimming. But again, the same question lingers.
Maybe greatness is measured by wealth. At the moment that would mean these are great people: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Alice Walton of the Walmart family, Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway, Bill and Melinda Gates of Amazon, Jeff Bezos of Amazon – and of course MacKenzie Bezos.
So, what makes a person great?
Maybe one way to approach the question is to ask what is it we want for our children? While we want them to be accomplished, financially secure, and more – the common answer parents provide is, “I want my child to be happy.” If you press the question, “That’s what you want for them, but what would make them great?” When that question is asked, what follows in parent’s answers is a list of personal qualities and characteristics. Not a resume of accomplishments, but a resume of character.
And maybe that is a question for all us on this Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pause for a moment and consider our opening prayer this day: “Clothe us Lord, with the virtues of the Heart of Your Son” It is a prayer that asks that we be graced to follow the GOAT – Jesus Christ – truly the greatest of all time, of all space and place, of all history, of all creation. It asks that we be graced to take into ourselves the characteristics of our Lord and Savior.
As a reminder, maybe we could have a set of tee-shirts made up. We could wear one every day as a reminder. Here is a list of characteristics to help us on the way to greatness:
Make me kind again
Make me compassionate… Gracious, Moral, Empathetic, Resilient, Respectful, Honest, Heroic, Welcoming, Curious, Inclusive, Truthful, Generous, Brave, Helping, Trustworthy, Charitable, Committed, Honorable, Passionate, Empowering, Open-minded, Patient, Humble,
And most importantly Lord, make me Hopeful, Faithful, and above all, Loving
Lord, help me to be great, help me to take on the heart of your Son.