… Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you’ll ever be.
My family spent many nights during Advent and Christmas watching classic seasonal movies. We usually reserve It’s A Wonderful Life for Christmas week. Most of us know the movie by heart and can recite many of the classic lines in our sleep. The struggle of character George Bailey touches many a heart, as he is lead by the angel Clarence to discover his real purpose in life.
I am reunited with many of my former students during this time of year. These students return for Midnight Mass to reconnect with former teachers and alumni. I quickly learned upon becoming a teacher that we are not concerned with the number of doctors, lawyers and business people that our school produces, rather it is certainly more important that we produce young people who are ready to embrace a life integrating Christ into everything he or she does. This concern always prompts the question from teachers when they visit, “Are you happy?”
George Bailey’s story is much more than a heartwarming Christmas tale. It is a movie that provokes each of us to think about our true vocation. Just as George is made to image a world without him, we must meditate on what God has planned for us. George reminds us of the primary goal of every catechist, to help each student discover why God made him or her.
In a world that promotes the “me first” mentality, Christianity emphasizes loving others. Too many students pursue occupations that leave them wanting more out of life. When George Bailey remained locked in his nowhere job at the family-run Building and Loan, choosing an alternative career would mean forsaking other who needed him. George truly exhibited the spirit of Jesus Christ.
In the New Year, there will be those unique teachable moments when you will have the opportunity to introduce your students to the kind of life that George Bailey lead. Just maybe, you are the George Bailey in his or her life. Open their eyes and demonstrate how magical existence can be when you forsake self-indulgence in order to live a life of love and service. When the layers of a vocation are peeled away, relationships remain. If we rewrite the last chapter of It’s A Wonderful Life George Bailey.
Might pick up The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and read: “No man is a failure who loves others as Christ so loved the world!”