“For man has been made an intelligent and free member of society by God who created him, but more importantly he is called as a son to commune with God and to share in his happiness.” (Gaudium et Spes, n ° 21)
Almost late for Worship in the Baltimore Basilica, I rushed out of the Franklin Street garage when I briefly saw a security guard looking in the opposite direction and shouting one man’s name on the other. next to Cathedral Street. I hurriedly ignored her and continued to walk briskly and with my mind full of all sorts of moving chores, all on a sweltering summer day.
It was then that I heard the words I will never forget, from an older man crossing Cathedral Street. With a cord swinging his work badge back and forth as he walked over to the screaming woman working in the garage, he looked at me and said with a slight smile, “I know this is miserable.” here, but that’s no reason to be sad.
Embarrassed, I thought again, “Thank you, my God, I needed to hear that. Apologizing, I told her around the corner that I didn’t want to look sad and praised the Lord. He smiled back at her, shoulders rolled back. This man, in jeans and an old sweatshirt, knew the secret of living in love, of living in joy.
My own father told me a long time ago to be “happy” no matter what. Was the older man who walked through Cathedral Street that day an answer to a prayer from my father now in Heaven? Could have been. Once an enlisted soldier in the United States Army fighting on the battlefields of Nazi Germany, my father chose to be happy no matter what. He chose to love no matter how he was treated. Are these traits not forgotten today? Traits that we could all bear to learn again?
“But I say, walk in the Spirit, and do not satisfy the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would like. But if you’re led by the Spirit, you’re not under the law. However, the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, enmity, quarrel, envy, drunkenness, drinking, etc. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against this there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. “(Galatians 5: 16-24)
Do the fruits of the Spirit come easily? No. It has been said before that we learn a lot about how to deal with humans by observing and working with dogs. For years I have rescued older dogs and learned the most from my Labrador Retriever named Candy, who during her brief time on earth with me learned to love. For months after I first had her, Candy wanted to stay across the room, probably hurt by past experiences with more than one person. And yet it was the smile of someone who loved her – like the older man who smiled at me as he walked through Cathedral Street this summer – that reminded her that she was loved and that he was normal. to forget everything and love in return.
For several months, I saw Candy learn to love, to respond with love to being loved. Candy came to know that someone loved her and that she didn’t need to be afraid to revel in this world of love by giving and receiving. Although human, to Candy I was like a parent who was always there, just like God was to my father – the person who made it easy for her to rest and love. I think it’s this recognition of a God who is a Father who can make us “walk in the Spirit” like the man crossing Cathedral Street, like a baby in a deckchair, free to have fun. More than my father, Candy taught me that love can be learned, enjoyed and practiced until it is perfect.
Can we give this love freely? Sometimes I think that as Christians we can get too involved in our own relationship with Christ when he wants us to share it with others who don’t know him. One thing I really love about doing Worship at Baltimore Basilica is that it’s never just about “me and Jesus” – it always ends up at least involving praying for the news. people I see on the way to the basilica. Sometimes that means getting lost in a new but very dilapidated neighborhood and seeing such immense poverty on the many faces I cross that they accompany me in prayer to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
Or my trip to the cathedral might involve waiting in a line of traffic and then quickly handing out bottled water and granola bars out of my car window to the homeless people walking past all the cars.
So these are the people who accompany me in prayer to our Eucharistic Lord. Or while praying in front of the monstrance, I can hear what appears to be an endless stream of sirens or the most horribly choreographed music coming from a car below. The people associated with these sounds are then the other unnamed human beings whom I pray to Christ before me. I am blessed to know them briefly and to be their messenger to God. He alone knows their future.
And once again, thank you, my God, for the older man who crossed Cathedral Street this summer and for his most meaningful words to me! I hope we will meet one day, at least in Heaven. In the meantime, yes, let’s smile together and love each other in the most incredible situations. We have a Father who has everything in hand!