I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Holy Thursday reflection

I shared a short Holy Thursday reflection at a Paschal Mystery prayer service for RCIA at my parish tonight, so, in light of the fact that it's late and I am out of fresh ideas, I am posting it here - it's about Holy Thursday:

I love the image we have here of Pope Francis washing the feet of these people. This picture reminds us that we love others, because God loved us first. Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a reminder of God’s love, and to nourish us so that we may be a sign of that love for others. Obviously, Holy Thursday is about the Eucharist (because that’s when the Sacrament was instituted), but, just as importantly, (as this image suggests) it’s about Jesus’ call for each of us to enter into giving and receiving loving, selfless service. 

I’ll never forget – I lived in Arizona as part of a teaching program for a couple of years before I moved to Chicago, and I lived there with five other 23 year-olds. And one night, one of my housemates decided that we needed to take our goal of serving the poor to a literal level – she wanted us to go out to the streets of Tempe (where we would usually go on a Friday or Saturday night to the bars) armed with peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and water bottles. And we were going to hand it all out to the homeless people in the area. 

In retrospect, I don’t know how smart or safe that was. (I don’t think I ever told my parents about it.) But we went out in pairs, and after interacting with a few people, my friend George and I spent most of our time that night sitting and conversing with one gentleman in particular. He was an older gentleman - I don’t remember his name, but I’m pretty sure he had all of his possessions (which wasn’t a lot) surrounding him on his blanket. He asked us questions, but mostly he talked – he needed to tell his story to someone who would listen, and that happened to be us. We were there for probably close to an hour, and when our housemates finally found us to tell us it was time to go, I remember him looking into my eyes and saying, “You are an angel.” 

 And I think that’s when it hit me – it doesn’t take a lot to be Christ for other people. It really doesn’t. A smile, a conversation, a kind gesture, a car ride home for a coworker. Volunteering to coach a school’s basketball team, cooking a meal at a local shelter. In all of these (and other) selfless acts, Jesus is at work in us. Because we have been touched through Jesus’ words and actions in the Gospels, at Mass, and through others in our own lives, we, in turn, are compelled to do likewise and give selflessly to others. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus’ message is so incredibly simple. Not easy, simple. And in our world today, it is so incredibly important.

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