Parishioner Perspectives

“What is Halloween made of?”

A compelling question, no? Candy, costumes, ghosts, tricks and/or treats… The list goes on. But before I could respond, our family car – en route to the school’s annual “Trunk or Treat” – had passed a handful of cows on the side of the road.

“What are cows made of?”

“Uh…” Beef? Intestines? Cells and molecules? The answer felt 100% less cute and just a touch confusing.

We’re at a stage with our nearly-four-year-old where a lot of questions are phrased in this way: “What is – fill in the blank – made of?” or “What’s inside – again, fill in the blank?”

“What’s inside this chair?” “What are Skittles made of?” “What’s inside birthdays?” “What is a princess made of?”

It’s such an odd question, and I’ve been wondering at the impulse, the curiosity, behind it. Some variations have clear answers, though I’m hard-pressed to tell you what a Skittle is made of. Other variations lead to somewhat philosophical replies: A princess, for example, can be made up of many things.

But the questions keep coming, fast and furious, and it seems our daughter is much less interested in answers as she is in pointing out new ways in which to confuse her parents.

And yet, there is an impulse at work here, I think. There’s a desire to know more than simply what our eyes can see. There’s a curiosity fueled by a sense that something greater is at work, hidden from view, and yet worth digging into more deeply.

Faith, right? A quest for the holy. A recognition of God in all things.

But let’s not leave it there. Because the question can be turned on us: What are we made of? What’s inside us? (Our daughter has asked as much.)

Blood and bone, cells and water, organs and tissue and all the rest we learned in our high school biology courses. Sure, that’s not a wrong answer.

But these increasingly frequent conversations with my daughter have brought to mind a very specific passage from the Gospel: “By their fruits you will know them. … A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.” (Mt 7:16, 18)

One way to answer this question lies here: We discover what we’re made of – what’s truly inside of us – through the fruits that we bear.

Because how tempting it is to doubt our God-given gifts; how easy it is to forget that we are made in the image and likeness of the Divine! We forget that we are wonderfully made. That inside each of us is something good and beautiful.

And so, this week, make it your mission to ask others what good fruits they see you bear – and share, too, what you see in them. We can answer these questions for one another: What’s inside each of us? What are we made of? How are we reflecting the desires of the God who created us?

Then, we might begin to put all that good stuff of ourselves at the service of God and God’s people, recalling what we are made for: service and love, the greater glory of God and the good of all people.

In God’s peace,

Eric Clayton
Deputy Director of Communications
Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States

Author of “Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith” — Available Now for Preorder


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