The little girl, perhaps five or six, is wanting to buy a gift of chocolate at the corner shop for her mum’s birthday. With her mum waiting out on the footpath, she pays for the gift with her currency; coloured buttons, a dress-up ring and a small toy. In an exchange where a child’s love meets an adult’s compassion, the purchase is transacted. The shopkeeper hands over the chocolate bar and returns some change to the child; the pink unicorn.
There might be some ‘hard-hearts’ who would pooh-pooh the sentiments of the Ad; ‘that isn’t how the world works; the kid should be taught the harsh realities of life; there is no such thing as a free ride’. However, what makes this Ad so effective is that it connects so well with the human heart. Its tag line is a play on what we are used to from that chocolate company; “There is a glass and half in everyone!”.
We had our own ‘glass and a half’ moment at MCC this week. After a beginning of day visit to our caring reception desk staff from a distressed Prep student, a message went out around the school to be on the look-out for her $2 coin lost in the playground, or around OSHC, or perhaps on the oval. When I read the message, I thought it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack; let alone taking into account the old adage about ‘finder’s keepers’. Mid-morning, I was near reception when the $2 coin was handed in. When I commented on how good that was, Maria responded, “Funny thing that; the lost coin has been found four times now – and counting!”. Ah, the milk (chocolate) of human kindness; there truly is ‘a glass and a half’ in everyone!
By happenstance, the Gospel passage set aside for this Sunday just passed is of rejoicing in lost things found: three parables in a row; the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. From St Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is responding to criticism that he spends too much time with ‘bad people’; sinners and other social rejects. As so often is the case, Jesus responds with stories which direct his listeners to examine their own hearts and to deepen their understanding of God and God’s ways.
Jesus’ parables illuminate the divine heart. With God, every person counts, every individual is precious. The Divine intent is that we – each of us – is known and loved. When we are lost to hopelessness, greed and hate, God’s desire is that we be found. God denounces the sin and rescues the sinner.
This mission is embodied by Jesus; justice and mercy meet in Christ. Justice speaks to the truth of the matter, the sin, while mercy speaks to the truth of the person, worthy of rescue.
One way of understanding these parables is that there is an increasing sense of preciousness about what is lost; 1% of the flock, a tenth of the household income, half of a family. The desire to seek out the lost sheep and find the missing coin is immensely amplified when a precious child was lost. For both shepherd and householder, they knew that one was lost because all were counted; every sheep, each coin and all people made in divine image and likeness have innate worth and value.
Likewise, at school every child counts, every student matters. Together we will not be successful until every child succeeds. This dual focus on the learning and wellbeing of the class as a whole and on each individual student is central to our approach as a school and as a system. Our year-level teaching teams have this dual focus when monitoring learning and wellbeing growth. We will not give up on one or two, even if the group
as a whole seems to be going OK. We are determined to focus on the needs of each individual. And this is across all domains: academic, physical, spiritual, social, psychological.
We appreciate the developmental nature of childhood and adolescence and understand there are individual variations in this journey as a result of many factors. We take this into account as we support the learning and wellbeing growth of each student in our care.
We adopt a ‘glass and a half’ full mindset in our mission as a Catholic school here at MacKillop. A community where love and compassion meet in our support of the intellectual, social and spiritual growth and wellbeing of our students. We give up on no one; every child is counted, known by name, and cared for with great love.