Walking in Jesus’ footsteps

By  Daniel D'Souza, Friar's Writing Award
  • February 1, 2018

The annual Friars’ Student Writing Awards, sponsored by The Catholic Register and the Franciscan Friars of Atonement Graymoor, produced some stellar essays this year, three of which earned special recognition.

This year, Ontario high school students were asked to write a 500-word essay on this theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: “Just as the Israelites sought deliverance from enslavement, in contemporary society the dignity of all people is threatened by new enslavements to poverty, violence, injustice and addictions. In what ways can Christians of all denominations work together to stave off these assaults to human dignity?”

The following is Daniel D'Souza's essay that placed third in the Friar's Writing Contest: 

The world we live in is not perfect. Yet, perhaps God does not want a perfect world because such a world would mean there is no need to change. 

However, when God bestows upon us the ability to change, He wants us to change for the better of society. In the case of the enslaved Israelites, they worked together under the guidance of Moses to escape the terrible treatment of the Egyptians and to bring them to a better future. But even thousands of years later, there are people still out there being persecuted through no fault of their own, simply because of their gender, religion, ethnicity, etc.

As Christians, no matter the denomination, God is calling on us to extinguish these fiery evils and work towards all Christians’ goal of a peaceful world. And there are several ways in which we as Christians can win this battle. The first is Christians should engage with the societal outcasts who have been neglected and treated unfairly by society, just as Mother Teresa did. We can show them that we care about them and are by their side when no one else will be.

A second approach is setting an example and taking the first step towards righteousness. Jesus teaches us to treat others the way we want to be treated, and setting an example can create a ripple effect on others. When all Christians treat others fairly and with dignity, it is axiomatic that others, whether Christian or not, will follow by example. Without this, only more suffering will occur.

The third way relates to the saying, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Given that Christians represent almost one-third of the global population and many countries, like Canada, are predominantly Christian, by encouraging the government as one group to help the persecuted and most vulnerable, without doubt appropriate action will follow.

The last method is to pray, read the Bible, especially the four Gospels, to learn from the teachings of Christ and to exemplify Christ. The power of prayer is something that can never be measured and God will always listen.

Furthermore, Christ did not only come down from Heaven to die for us. He also came down to set an example on how to live a just life. By reading the Bible, Christians can learn these lessons and then exemplify them so that others will follow in the footsteps of Christ.

One does not have to be Christian to follow Jesus’ lessons. However, sometimes non-Christians are unaware of Christ’s lessons and need a little guidance. If everyone lived a life that Jesus preached, there would be no assaults on humanity.

The current attacks on the dignity of humanity are like a long, dark tunnel — it may be scary and dark now, but there is light at the end of this tunnel, if and only if each and every Christian works towards this bright destination.

(D’Souza, 18, is a Grade 12 student at John Cabot Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga.)