“Let us ask ourselves today: are we open to God’s surprises?” Pope Francis
Sometimes I wonder if I am so set in my ways that I do not see the Lord working in front of me. It is easy to get down on life and think it is not working and then from out of the blue someone steps in front of you and reminds you to look at what is happening. I work at a language school and teach English to international students. It is quite rewarding, and I am most impressed with their seriousness towards their studies. Despite the school being secular, I have asked permission to bring the students to my work with the homeless in my city. I collected about 10 of them and we made our way to volunteer. Twice, a student came to help. After each time, he came up to me and told me that he appreciated the opportunity I gave him. I looked at him and wondered what that was all about. Usually, people that come tell me that I owe them for their time, or they can be quite cynical. This was the opposite. God surprised me again and I now need to remind myself not to get so discouraged.
“Give something however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.” St. Gregory of Nazianzen
It is easy to become selfish in a busy and bustling world. I have seen my city decay somewhat since the end of the pandemic. Apathy seems to be the norm. I read about the saints today: St Margaret of Antioch, Blessed Angel Martinez Miquelez; earlier this month, Blessed Adrian Fortescue. All three had different circumstances, yet all three suffered the same fate – a martyr’s crown. Who would wish that upon anyone? Not me for sure. However, standing up for Christ means standing down for something else. Ridicule and ignorance of the Lord are both on the table, yet we need to persevere. There is no way back once we put our hands to the plough.
“The soul of the one who serves God always swims in joy, always keeps holiday, and is always in the mood for singing.” St. John of the Cross
I attend morning mass in the downtown of the city and some rough characters sometimes show up. They can be a distraction. Despite all of this, the mass is well attended. It is easy to pass judgement on others as we think we are the ones closest to the Lord. Even the apostles wanted to be the favourites. This is not the way. Thinking back to my volunteer experience, we give the workers a meal after we finish. One volunteer came back and offered me payment for the food to donate to the centre. I thought that it was unnecessary, but instead, it was a gesture that this person needed to show. Family members sometimes are not so open to helping others in the way strangers are. We need to be continually aware of what is happening around us; otherwise, we navel gaze all day and waste out time. No time is wasted on the Lord – never. He knows how to show us joy.
“Life is a battle. Therefore, we have to be armed and ready and always on the alert. We must be armed with the weapons of the spirit, which we can easily obtain if we live all the time in the presence of God.” Antonio Cardinal Bacci