He asked, “Where is the piccolo?”

They tell the story of the famous 19th conductor, Sir Michael Costa, who was leading a rehearsal with hundreds of instruments and voices. The choir sang at full voice, accompanied by the thundering organ, the roll of drums and the blare of horns. In the midst of all the din, one man who played the piccolo far up in a corner, said to himself, “It doesn’t matter what I do,” and he stopped playing. Suddenly, the great conductor flung up his hands, and brought the rehearsal to a complete standstill. “Where is the piccolo?” he cried.

He knew the piccolo had a voice. And that voice had a contribution to make.

We are the body of Christ

Isn’t that what the apostle Paul had in mind in the famous passage in 1 Corinthians 12,

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

We are part of something that’s bigger than us. That should give us a sense of real significance. We’re not alone; rather, we’re part of an organic entity of human beings, part of a heavenly family that will never die. We are not called the persons of God; we are called the people of God. None of us suffers or rejoices without it having an impact on the rest of us.

The little piccolos of systemic change

I think there is a lesson here for each of us as we see the faces of suffering and marginalization in the world.

Over 175 years ago Frederic Ozanam wrote “Charity is the Samaritan who pours oil on the wounds of the traveler who has been attacked. It is Justice’s role to prevent the attack.”

On February 4, 2017 Pope Francis echoes the words of Frederic, “We must work toward changing the rules of the game of the socio-economic system, imitating the Good Samaritan of the Gospel is not enough.” (See related post Pope Francis echoes Ozanam)

The implication is clear when we view the big picture. Even the small piccolos of systemic change are important. (Also, keep in mind that even piccolos come in various forms.)

Systemic change does not just happen. It takes the collaboration of many people with different gifts. Some have the prophet’s gift to open our eyes to the needs of our sisters and brothers. Others have the gift of connections, enabling a collaborative effort. But who among us does not have the power to pick up a phone, write a letter or speak with our neighbors? All important actions in giving voice to those on the margins.

Doing our part

  • How often do I think I am just a little piccolo no one will hear?
  • What does it take to write or call a person in power on behalf of the voiceless?
  • Do I ever encourage other “small voices” to play their part in the chorus?

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