Gabriel was so excited to be able to purchase a little wooden plane for his upcoming birthday. It wasn’t much by American standards: just 10 soles, which is roughly three US dollars. I know what you’re thinking: three dollars is not much. Most people spend that a day on a coffee each morning before work. But on a missionary budget like ours, $3 can be a stretch. That kind of money can buy the three of us an entire breakfast, and more. Needless to say, Gabriel was reluctant to ask for the toy plane but stunned and overjoyed that I said yes. I felt his 10th birthday should be special.
Gabriel carried that plane with him everywhere: to our home visits with the poor and outside every evening to play in the plaza with his friends. One day we had to go to a larger town to pick up supplies and to make a few copies for our ministries. We were walking through the market and a mother pushing her son in a wheel chair stopped us. They were selling gum and Peruvian candies. The two of them wonder up and down the market daily to sell their treats in hopes to make enough to live for the day. As I was talking to the mother, I overheard Gabriel say, “Here. Take it.” When I turned around, he was giving his wooden airplane to the little boy in the wheel chair.
My heart sank. I selfishly thought, “How can I replace that plane! It was for his birthday and he just gave it away! Our budget will not allow for us to purchase another.”
I finished up talking to the boy’s mother and by that time someone else had come to make a purchase from them. As we went about our errands in the market, Gabriel was so full of joy. I looked in his eyes and told him he was a special young man for giving his plane away. I asked him why he did it; His response was simple, “It’s what Jesus would have done.”
That little plane brought a lot of joy to Gabriel in the few days he had it. The plane just made a touch-and-go in our lives; We pray it will bring about the same amount of joy and love to its new owner.
This act of kindness is an encouragement to each of us to never turn away from the opportunities to give to those in need, to be bold and courageous witnesses, never fearing to give testimony to Jesus’s faithfulness.
I would like to honor Gabriel on his 10th birthday for being in love with the poor and for being faithful enough to serve them, for never hesitating to embrace living in solidarity along with them, and for calling me on to sainthood. Please pray for Gabriel in a special way today!
“God Loves those who find joy in giving.” – Saint John Paul II
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