Serve one another (Mark 10:45). With one simply quote from Mark’s Gospel we are called to ministry as Jesus commanded. You may ask yourself, “who do I serve?” The answer is we are called to serve those we know, the stranger, the lost, the sick, the hungry, the marginalized…basically everyone. Seems rather daunting, doesn’t it. Lucky for us, Jesus did not ask us to abandon our current lives to live one of complete service. He is calling us to minister in our day to day lives which includes serving others.
The St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish is blessed by the people who make up our loving community through their service in parish ministries as well as the community at large. As the parish staff liaison for Christian Service, my path crosses quite frequently with the paths of these dedicated individuals who serve meals, visit the sick and homebound and who strive to educate us all on how we can be better stewards of our environment. Almost wistfully, I read bulletin updates on the activities of where one group or another is going; and wonder when I will find the time to get my own hands dirty doing these same good works. After a bit a reflection, it was time to stop wishing. It is time to start doing. And not only for myself but to include my colleagues in the parish office who also work earnestly to keep the parish mission moving forward. With my servant’s heart awakened, eager to live my life of service more purposefully, I arranged for the parish staff to make and serve the daily lunch at the Schenectady Salvation Army Soup Kitchen on Wednesday, June 19th. The timing couldn’t be better. Pentecost was the previous Sunday; and with the joyous liturgical celebration; Father Bob invited the congregation to DO something new!
Hair nets✔ Groceries to feed 100✔ Joyful spirit✔ We were focused on working together; we had one goal: to prepare a delicious and filling lunch for anyone who is hungry. Our staff found their rhythm in the browning ground beef, slicing cakes and pouring juice. Being at the soup kitchen was a new experience for most which added an eagerness and anticipation to the work. Each doing their very best and willing to learn something new so lunch would be ready to serve at 12 o’clock sharp.
And precisely at noon, the doors opened; quickly the room was full of people and voices. Ready or not, we began to serve lunch. When leading young people in service, we ask two questions, “When were you Christ for someone?” and “Where did you see Christ present in your work?” The easy answers were feeding the hungry and in the faces of others at the Salvation Army who serve the community each day. Stopping to ponder these questions, I thought of this passage from John 21: 15-17. Jesus says: “Feed my lambs”, “Tend my sheep” and “Feed my sheep”. Jesus was speaking Simon Peter but he is also speaking to each one of us. By serving the meal we provided an immediate need to satisfy the hungry. By our words and actions, we are nourishing the soul. Hunger has a face. The face of young, old, the sick and the able bodied and the lonely. It has the face of Jesus.
For us, Christ was present in the meal served on June 19th in the love poured into preparing the meal; the hands both serving the meal and receiving the meal. We were Christ for each other like the disciples who shared their bread and fish with the multitude and when Jesus accepted the towel from Veronica. Giving and receiving with love and without prejudice.