By: Lauren McCallick
Sunday, February 5, 2017
In the last few weeks, I’ve felt especially frustrated with the state of the world and the state of our country. Each day, the light of compassion and hope seems to be getting dimmer. In the wake of current events, I’ve felt paralyzed and unable to make any kind of valuable contribution. It seems that any action I could possibly perform would be too small, too inconsequential to make a difference. I’ve felt inadequately equipped to make a dent in the face of such strife. But, this Sunday we hear a clarion call to action. All three readings remind us that we, even in our vulnerable, imperfect human state, have an inherent capacity and responsibility to bring Christ into the world.
We are called to specific action as God’s beloved. In the first reading we hear, “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.” How wonderful to be reminded that there’s a blueprint for being light in the world! In sharing, sheltering, clothing, and welcoming others, we let God work through us. And, these works of mercy are not feats of great strength that only the saintly are called to do. Rather, Christ tells us that the capacity to influence the world for good is ingrained in us (imperfect as we are). He says, “You are the salt of the earth […]You are the light of the world.” Jesus does not preface this with the future tense. He doesn’t use the phrase “one day” or “perhaps when you’re strong enough.” Right now, you have the agency to act in such a way as to preserve and illuminate God’s love in the world. You are salt and light.
On a handful of occasions, I’ve been blessed to volunteer at Mary’s Closet, a Catholic Charities initiative. Mary’s Closet provides professional attire to clients seeking employment, and Junior Board volunteers work specifically with clients from the Refugee Resettlement Program. This service opportunity, though wonderful and life giving, is always a little awkward for me. There is usually a language barrier, and picking out clothes with someone you just met is harder than you might think. Nevertheless, this past Tuesday, I joined Junior Board members (including many OSP members!) to help.
The group of clients with us on Tuesday was all male. I know next to nothing about men’s sizing, but there I was, partnered with another volunteer, trying to find business clothing that would fit our client. I couldn’t help but think about how inept I was at this task. Much of our communication with the client was through thumbs up/down, smiles, and nods as we searched racks of donated clothing. But, in the end, when our client walked out beaming with a full business ensemble, I realized something obvious. This task was not about how inadequate I felt or how imperfectly I carried out my work. It was not about me. Works of mercy are about God and God’s love for the world. When we partake in small works such as these, we are privileged to be the medium through which God makes himself manifest in the world. We must be God’s hands, vessels for God’s love in a dark world. We are salt and light.
Lauren McCallick is the Director of Development at Old Saint Patrick’s Church.