Yesterday, I received my first ever flu shot. I never really saw a purpose for intentionally subjecting myself to a needle stick. (If you read my September 5th blog you would know I don’t like scary things. To me, needles are scary things.) That is, however, until speaking to a group of school kids last year (they all stopped to shake my hand as they left the room). After the visit I became very ill and it felt like it lingered with me for months.
In the last few days, leading up to the dreaded flu shot, I had to keep giving myself little pep talks that it would be ok to get the vaccine. As I stepped into the nursing station I could sense my face going pale as my fear kicked in high gear. The nurse started chatting with me and like that it was over…I didn’t feel a thing. All that worry for nothing. Why does fear have such power over a person?
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of Saint John XXIII. John XXIII served as Pope from 1958 until his death in 1963. He surprised many people when he called for the Second Vatican Council. Ecumenism, promoting unity among Christians, was an important aspect of the council. John XXIII focused on similarities among Christians in order to build unity, he is quoted as saying, “What unites us is much greater than what divides us.”
Just as the fear of the unknown “pain” of a needle kept me from getting a flu shot, I believe the fear of the unknown of people who are different from us prevents us from getting to know and accepting others. John XXIII gives us an example of how to become immune to fear. Acknowledge our similarities and celebrate our differences…I can only imagine how boring our world would be if we were all cookie cutter replicas of one another. How can you become a bridge that leads to unity?