In the Gospel this weekend Jesus says "heaven and earth will pass away but my words will last forever". Somehow, on this bleary Thursday, this comforts me. I know the readings at this time of the year are all about the 'end times' and generally serve to unnerve me a bit...but today, not so much, probably because of how my week has gone.
I was very fortunate this past Sunday - Tuesday to join a group of certified directors and coordinators of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of NY for our annual Wisdom Gathering. OK, let me stop you right now and clarify that 'certified' means we've all gone through a certain course of study to improve our skills, not the other kind of certified..like at Bellevue...! Stop snickering!
In any case, a few days away, quiet, prayer, study of scripture with Sr. Carol Perry, a bit of laughter and friendship was truly life giving.
I came back from this event into an amazing evening of parish community building...a group of 31 folks from the parish who really didn't know each other all that well, went out to dinner together just for the fun of it! What a great night! And really, what a terrific way to take the church out of the church and bring it into the neighborhood! Thanks to Charlie and Maria who took such excellent care of us at Lexington Pizza. Tuesday evening was table fellowship at its best.
But then, Wednesday was amazing. While everyone else took the day off, (thank you to all the Veterans who are such an example of loving service), I had the opportunity to take 8 of our young people on a special confirmation retreat out at Bishop Molloy Retreat House in Jamaica, NY. I don't know these kids all that well. What a delightful day with a bunch of polite, funny, thoughtful and kind young people. But here's when they stole my heart...
The retreat team had provided an opportunity for the sacrament of Reconciliation for the students. As we went into chapel I explained to them the time was theirs if they would like to receive this sacrament. I expected some hesitation. I expected questions. What happened next blew me away...they couldn't wait to go! They were so anxious to be 'next' on line...and so sincere in their approach to this sacrament. How could I be the ONLY one NOT to go...those kids actually shamed me into going to confession!! I couldn't believe it.
So, after lunch when we were talking about how people give witness to their faith, it gave me great pride to share with them how their example of wanting to go to confession pushed me to receive the sacrament I so often shy away from. I could tell them what a great witness they were to me. I will never look at those 8 teens in the same way again. I am so grateful to God for their witness to me yesterday in so many simple ways.
So, among all the things Jesus said I hold onto his command to love, respect and welcome his 'little ones'. Those words will forever be with me I promise I always will. They have so much to teach me.