The charcoal basket

Once a boy, while visiting his grandfather who lived on a farm, asked him: “grandpa, I try to pray every day as you do, but I get tired of it, and nothing changes anyway. What’s so good about praying?”

The old man removed the two or three remaining charcoals from the charcoal basket and asked him: “can you please go to the cistern, fill up the basket with water and bring it to me.” The boy went to the cistern and filled it up, but when he returned the basket was empty. “You should move faster” the grandfather said and sent his grandson to get the water again. The boy tried to run faster, but it was useless because no water remained in the basket when he went back to his grandfather. “I will take a bucket” he said; but his grandfather said: “I do not want a bucket with water but rather a basket with water.  Try again.” The boy wanted to show him that his request was impossible.  He tried his best, but it was useless, so he said to his grandpa: “it does not make any sense, grandpa, it is impossible to fill this basket up with water.”

“Why do you think that it does not make sense? Look inside the basket” the old man said. He looked inside the basket and it was totally clean. “That is the way God works; He changes us from the inside but we cannot see His work if we only see the outside” he said.

Just like this boy, we can become discouraged when we try to change, sometimes “running fast” like he did, but always seeing that our basket is empty, which means that we continue to have the same defects, imperfections, mistakes, etc. It can seem that God’s grace is not working in us.

However, God’s grace always works in us. The problem is that we often pay attention to superficial things rather than the deep ones. We see the exterior, rather than the interior, and we get discouraged so we want to stop trying our best to fill up the basket with water.

It is true that sometimes the problem is that we are not trying our best, so we should always evaluate the means we are using to change ourselves. However, it is also true that His grace never stops nor fails, and is always working on us, in order to make us better people.  This story helps us to understand that we must never stop trying our best to change, but rather we must always trust in God and His grace.

Daily homily


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