Pope Francis recently said, "It is a matter of being more attentive to the genuineness of the good rather than the name and provenance of those who did it." This is the way I was raised and given the example of my parents. After immigrating to Canada, they worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for our family. Their modelling showed me the meaning of making sacrifices, looking out for each other and most significantly, the magnitude of letting your actions do the talking. We are all called to bring Christ to one another. We don't have to be celebrities, superstars, or professional athletes to be role models. We influence people every day through our words and actions.
My experiences as a teacher and administrator in Catholic education have also confirmed for me the huge influence that we have on people's lives. I am most grateful to serve as a member of a community of faith in all that I do. I'm privileged to witness the value of lifelong learning permeated with faith formation. Pope Francis has greatly influenced my faith journey when he says, "Let us ask our Lord to help us understand that love is service, love means taking care of others. "In every moment of every day, there is someone who needs our love and support.
It is vitally important to extend our relationships beyond those we interact with on a daily basis to the marginalized and at-risk in our world. One way to foster these relationships is through service. Serving others does not always require difficult or strenuous action. More frequently, it calls for the quiet (but more powerful) acts of listening with awareness and empathy and offering guidance when needed. Father Richard Rohr writes: “If we are not deliberate about our relationships with those who are at risk in the world, the result is a divide that convinces the comfortable and secure that all is well and persuades the poor that there is no hope, and regardless of what else we do, we must stay connected in some kind of face-to-face way with the persons and the places at risk."
My journey has taken me to what Pope Francis calls the peripheries. By encountering and supporting the vulnerable in their environments, I believe they begin to see me as a face of hope. Pope Francis says, "In a very real way, the poor are our teachers. They show us that people's value is not measured by their possessions or how much money they have in the bank. A poor person lacking material possessions always maintains his or her dignity. The poor can teach us much about humility and trust in God."
The greatest gift I have to share is my gift of time. When I gift this to someone else, I am offering a part of me that I do not expect to get back. Through these encounters we are constantly presented with opportunities to shape our legacies. To quote Saint John Paul II, "The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being." At the end of the day, we will not be remembered because of things we have acquired or personal successes. Rather, our legacies will be built on the human interactions and relationships we have fostered, nurtured, and cultivated, and by the love we show to whomever God places in front of us.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers