“Where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy” (excerpt from the Prayer of St. Francis).
After a 6 hour missionary van ride, we safely arrived home from L.A. Congress. We have traveled more this month than we have so far this year. We started the month of March by attending the staff retreat at Camp Covecrest. We then had a week to plan and lead a mission/retreat to the Salt River Pima Maricopa Reservation. One day after returning from that adventure, we packed ourselves and a bunch of Life Teen material (i.e. shelves, approx. 2 dozen trash cans, and a bunch of miscellanious items) in our 12 passenger van along with 8 passengers and their luggage (i.e. good bonding time?!). Immediately, when we reached California, we began to work. Honestly, I was exhausted.
We were attending L.A. Congress to help work the Life Teen booth. There were hundreds of booths there. At first, I was under the impression that I was going to be teaching people about Life Teen and our resources, and I did do some of that. But, the Lord showed me that He had something very different in mind…
Throughout the weekend, I met a variety of people who were coming from many different backgrounds. Some did, indeed, come to learn about our resources while others seemed to find our booth to be a place of rest and peace. The Lord provided many Divine appointments throughout the weekend. We had the opportunity to talk and pray with a number of people. So many thanked us for praying with them. In reality, I should have been the one to thank them. For, each person who I was able to pray with blessed me more than anything I could have given them.
The Lord showed me the reality of poverty this weekend. He started out by showing me the intensity of the poverty of heart. So often, I think I am alone in my own brokenness. In reality, the majority of us are broken (in some way, shape, or form) and the Lord longs to redeem and bring our struggles to the light. Then, the Lord showed me the poverty of hunger through a nun and a homeless man. Once again, this only clarified the reality of my own poverty. I want to dive deeper into the insights that my homeless friend gave me.
After 5:15pm Mass on Sunday, we went out to dinner at Chipotle. Nick, my missionary brother, spotted our homeless friend walking down the street and invited him to join us. My heart broke when he refused to sit inside with our community as he feared that people would mock and judge him. Nick and I sat with him outside as he shared how he had been living on the streets for nine months (he lost his job due to the poor economy). Through conversing with our homeless brother, it became apparent that he was seen as an outcast to society. I couldn’t grasp that this normal man, who once held a job, was suddenly being treated like a leper. This made me think much about my own life. There were times, especially when I was in college, when I had similar feelings to this man due to difficult life circumstances. After 3 years, the Lord took me from that situation and now I am a missionary. I can’t help but think how much longer our ‘outcast’ brother will have to live feeling like that. Why do we as a society seem to do such a good job at failing to love the broken hearted? Why is this man being treated like a leper? He was so kind, as many of the homeless people I have met are. He didn’t have an addiction. He wasn’t dirty and he even taught us how he keeps himself clean. He was ‘normal’ in every way except for the fact that he didn’t have a job or home and thus he was treated horribly. This reminds me even more that we are a society that bases our value on what we do. In reality, our value should be placed on who we are; that is, sons and daughters of God. We are the Imago Dei. Each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, yet, we sometimes fail to see this. I fail to see it.
My brothers and sisters, we must stand up for the dignity of our brothers and sisters. This doesn’t mean that we have to be loud and obnoxious. It just means that we have to love with the love of Christ. I have to love with the love of Christ. We must bring hope to the hopeless, light to those in darkness, and love to those in pain. We must pray even harder. We must believe that we have a God who is a missionary God; a God who desires to be in relationship with us. We must open our hearts to listen to the voice of our God. We must listen to His voice of peace. We must love. We must love as Jesus, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, and Dorothy Day loved. Please pray for me that I can love more. I need your prayers. It is a rough world out there. We must sustain each other and lead one another to the love of Christ. Please let me know if there is any way I can be praying for you.
Know that each of you are loved dearly. Even if I don’t know you, know that God knows and loves you. Know that you are never forgotten or an ’outcast’ to society; no matter what. Know that you are the Imago Dei. You are made in the image and likeness of God…Please claim this gift.
In Christ who loves, acknowledges, and heals the broken,