Raise the stakes

A cloudy and humid day, and a sensation of emptiness. Only the day before I had celebrated my birthday, and made an ambitious wish: do all I can to make the new year shine as never before, imbuing each thing with love. I knew I would have had to start over again a thousand times, but I wanted to give my utmost. It was a sign of gratitude to Jesus for the gift of life. Not an isolated gift, but an intention valid for the entire year. He himself would have helped me.

And yet, while going to an appointment, I felt that the cloudy sky was also inside me. I had allowed to silently creep into my heart a judgment of a brother who had once again disappointed me. It didn’t matter whether I was right or not. Inside me, charity was missing. I felt it with pain and I asked myself how I had gotten to that point.

I came across a boy I often met. Dirty, stinky, with the usual bottle in hand. He was barefoot and shivering from the cold. He looked at me without a word. I greeted him courteously, thinking that in that way I was doing all I could, and continued my path. In that moment the Parable of the Good Samaritan came to mind. “Am I also like that Pharisee? Or do I let myself be challenged by that boy’s countenance of abandonment? I took off my sweater and went back. “Do you feel cold? “Yes, very” he answered. “Try on my sweater, let’s see if it fits.” He was so bewildered, but I almost didn’t dare touch him, since his hands really needed a good wash. “C’mon, try it on.” The size was perfect and his face seemed like that of a child on Christmas Eve. I greeted him and continued along my way, certainly feeling a bit cold, but happy.

While waiting to meet my friend, a subtle voice spoke inside me. “What you did was nice, but what about that judgment you have?” “But Jesus – I answered – that person may not even have noticed it….” “But I did notice, I was in him.” One by one the arguments and excuses that came to mind were erased. Going home I decided to call him. A serene conversation, without any hard feeling on his part. Full unity was re-established, even if, to tell the truth, something inside me had snapped. A great, unmistakable peace invaded me.

Two hours later, the doorbell rang. It was a dear friend, returning from his hometown with a gift for my birthday: a sweater! It was Jesus who was saying: “Raise the stakes!”


From: “La vida se hace camino”, Urs Kerber, Ciudad Nueva Ed., Buenos Aires 2016, pp 41-42


  • God gave me this story as a gift this morning! There is a person whom I hired to do a job at my house and it has taken four months instead of a couple of days. I get so irritated and judgmental with each new excuse he has for not coming to finish. Last night, I thought to myself, how can I see this person as new tomorrow? It is not just. I cannot let him think his behavior is okay. But as I read this, it is Jesus telling me, “Raise the stakes.” I’m starting over.

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