By Deacon John De Gano
Many years ago I humorously observed that “in any group of seven people if you don’t see ‘the Gilligan’ then, you’re the Gilligan!”
This observation was based on the TV show, Gilligan’s Island, a 1960’s situation comedy where First Mate Gilligan is a well-meaning, spontaneous youth who, despite his best efforts, manages more times than not to make matters worse for his Skipper and the five assorted passengers shipwrecked on a deserted Pacific island. He only “fixes” the impossible situations he creates each week by accident.
Some might have labeled him a Jonas after the namesake in the Bible (had that name not already been taken by his tour boat captain Jonas Grumby). That Jonas, in seeking to escape God’s calling to be a prophet, almost caused the ship he had stolen away on to be sunk in a storm. Eventually Jonas admits his sin to his shipmates and is put overboard in a small boat where he is swallowed up by a great fish, remains in its belly for three days and upon repentance is unceremoniously spit up onto the shore where God had directed him to go in the first place.
In the TV version, however, Gilligan and his comrades remain shipwrecked, create huts, a coconut radio, and many other unbelievable things that make their lives more comfortable, yet they remain incapable of producing the desired result of getting rescued and returned to their lives back home!
They become complacent and even miss opportunities presented to them for being rescued.
Has that ever happened to us?
Have we become so complacent in our faith that we miss opportunities to grow in faith and in relationship with Jesus Christ, through simple acts of love – what our church calls corporal or spiritual works of mercy?
Do we offer drink to the thirsty? Or food to the hungry?
If not, why not?
Jesus said that when we do this we are earning a prophet’s reward. Or that we may be entertaining angels unawares.
Grace and blessing are flowing our way. Do we embrace them? Do we pray daily for the sick, the dying, our family, friends and acquaintances yet ignore or condemn our enemies?
What profit is there in doing good things for those who do good things for us? Jesus asks. Even the pagans do this. We need to minister to those who cannot repay us, Jesus says. Then our reward in heaven will be great!
Jesus also said if we are faithful in small things he will put us in charge of greater things.
If we respond to the thirsty or hungry as we should, God will speak to our hearts about why they thirst or hunger. We may be called to serve at a food bank or soup kitchen; to call our friends together to find work for a recently unemployed individual to earn an income while getting back on his or her feet. Perhaps we will be called to advocate for community funding of homeless shelters or state officials for more affordable housing and micro-finance loans in the hardest hit housing foreclosure areas.
We can all make a difference in someone else’s life. Even us Gilligans. We just need to be grateful to God for our blessings and then share them with someone else.
That’s how we will build the kingdom of God here on earth: One blessing at a time.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Riverside.