Yesterday's journey was remarkable in terms of the disparity we witnessed among residents of what is considered to be a somewhat affluent middle-class community. It's certainly not the first time we have encountered such, nor will it be the last, but it provides a stark reminder of the economic challenges and hardships faced by many of our brothers and sisters, while simultaneously calling each of us to reflect upon the blessings we have. It also challenges each of us to go deeper in our engagement with, and outreach to, our neighbors. It reminds those of us whose choose to accept this "call" that we cannot sit within the safety and comfort of the four walls of the Church, merely praying for those who struggle, or supporting causes brought before us at Mass; clearly these are worthy endeavors, but, if we are to truly "take up our cross[es] and follow [Christ]" (Matthew 16:24) then we must walk with Him, and, for Him among our brothers and sisters, “Go[ing] into the whole world and proclaim[ing] the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
Our day ended with a beautiful encounter with a Baptist couple whose love of God and neighbor was evident from the very moment we made contact with them. They were extremely generous in, and passionately open to discussion of our Lord and Savior, as we shared exchanges about the beauty of Christ's LOVE and His message of Hope and Salvation. We talked of His greatest miracles, those miracles not where He raised the dead or cured the sick, but rather those miracles where He extended Forgiveness to sinners, therein setting them free, Hope to the downtrodden, giving them a reason to persevere and renewed Life, and His LOVE of all He came in contact with, which made people Whole again. We agreed that those miracles Forgiveness, Hope, and Love are the very miracles that each of us is able to perform when we allow ourselves to be transformed in Jesus Christ.
As our discussion concluded, we were presented with some simple, yet beautiful faith-based items for future review; items that they hoped would help to sustain, fortify, and uplift us on our journey. At that the 5 of us lovingly joined hands, praying together as brothers and sisters, not of different Christian denominations, but as followers and believers in the One True Triune God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We then spontaneously found ourselves in loving embraces, pledging to pray for one another, and for our respective faith communities. And, it was in those moments of pure love, that each of us understood without exception that it's not Dogma, Doctrine, or Devotions that change the world, but rather LOVE, a LOVE that comes from Jesus Christ Himself, who taught us by His Life, Death, and Resurrection that LOVE is what changes hearts, LOVE is what changes the world; going so far as to leave us a new commandment, "…love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (John 13:34). And is not LOVE the very message that our Pastor, Fr. Bob, LIVES and EMULATES each and every day? How then can we do any less if we are to call ourselves Christians?