Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 28, 2015

Defining Moments

Defining moments — we all experience those points in life that reveal something about who we are and that have a profound bearing on what we become. In one sense, life is a series of defining moments that alter the course of our lives one small degree at a time.

I once asked an agnostic college professor to tell me about the turning point that caused him to abandon his faith. “It was not a single turning point,” he replied, “but a series of turning points.” The course of this man’s life had been altered one degree at a time by a series of small defining moments.

St. Francis and the Leper
Mother Teresa once spoke to a reporter about a defining moment in the life of St. Francis of Assisi, the well-known Catholic saint. The young Francis, son of wealthy Italian parents, once encountered a leper by the side of the road. Like the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Francis saw the man, was repulsed by him, and continued on his way.

As Francis walked away from the leper, he realized that if he was going to devote his life to the poor then he had to move in the direction of lepers. So, he turned around, returned to the leper, and embraced and kissed him. As he rode off, he turned around and noticed that the leper had disappeared. Francis concluded that embracing the leper was a test from God. His compassionate response defined a moment that ultimately defined him.

Mother Teresa believed that the encounter with the leper made St. Francis. Like St. Francis, Mother Teresa’s selfless encounters with “Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor” revealed who she was and impacted what she became. Each encounter became a defining moment that kept her life oriented toward people in desperate need. These are the encounters that made Mother Teresa.

As we come to the end of 2015, this is a perfect time for looking back at the defining moments of the past year. Looking back, after all, is important. We understand life by looking back but we live life by moving forward. So, take some time to reflect on what the moments of the past year revealed about your life. Were there any moments when you should have stopped to embrace a leper?


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