As an American, when I think of geese, I think of the extremely terrifying Canadian goose.
Years of avoiding them has not made me a fan of them and put a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to all geese. Then this past week I gained a little sympathy for a different species of goose. Some of them have very difficult lives. The species I was reading about was the barnacle goose.
I’d never heard of the barnacle goose because it is mostly found on the islands in the Northern Atlantic, living in places like Greenland, Ireland, and Iceland. Although they are very similar to many other types of geese, the beginning of their life is quite difficult.
In its natural terrain these geese have to contend with Arctic fox predators. In order to protect the eggs and baby geese, female barnacle geese have taken to making their nests high up on cliffs, out of the reach of the foxes. Unfortunately, when the baby geese hatch, they have to get down from the cliffs but do not yet know how to fly. At just a few days old, the baby geese have to make the terrible decision between certain death by starvation if they stay on the cliff or a small chance at a life if they take the several hundred-foot jump. The mom goose flies to the bottom of the cliff and calls to her young. She knows the options and tries to convince her offspring to jump. She knows that the jump is dangerous, but she also knows that it is necessary for the species to continue.
Luckily we don’t have this type of life or death challenge facing us as adults, let alone as babies. Others, throughout history, weren’t so lucky. Today June 2nd is the feast of Martyrs and Saints Marcellinus and Peter. During their lifetime, Emperor Diocletian ordered the burning of Catholic churches and their sacred texts, as well as the imprisonment and torture of clergy and laypersons. Marcellinus was a priest and Peter was an exorcist so the two of them became imprisoned under the Emperor’s decree. At this point the two men had a choice to make. They could see this punishment as a reason to give up or they could keep spreading the gospel. They chose to see their imprisonment as an opportunity for evangelization. Their witness to the faith converted the jailer, his family, and their executioner before they were ultimately martyred for the faith.
The last few weeks I have written about your message and what gifts God has given you to help spread that message. This week I’m here to tell you that it won’t always be easy. We cannot see these challenges as a reason to quit or give up that mission. We must be like the baby geese and take that leap, even when it seems dangerous. They jump in order to continue their species; we must carry on in order to continue spreading the gospel. Most likely your challenges will not be life and death decisions like our revered Saints or the birds, but this does not make it less scary or difficult. Each of us has our own unique set of circumstances that God is using to bring about His greater glory. I encourage you to put a name to the challenges you are facing and pray this week for God to help you work through those challenges so that you may continue to serve Him. God wills our success in our missions. He wants to help us face our trials with courage and faith.