Monday, December 16, 2013

Surrounded By the Sheep and Supported By the Sheep

Lay people. I love them.  I mean, I really love them.  Tonight, the staff and I at the Newman House at BU had a Christmas Dinner.  Among those present was our Office Manager who has worked at the Newman House for eleven years.  She drives a long way from New Hampshire to Boston two or three times a week to do her work for the students.  Also present was our music minister, four FOCUS Missionaries, and our two interns (recent graduates from BU who basically give back a year or two of service to the Catholic Center).  The two interns and four FOCUS Missionaries fundraise their salaries by asking friends, family, and sponsors to support them.  That's pretty humbling, but they do it out of love for the students, for Christ, and for the Gospel.  They make very little.  They all work incredibly hard.

I never dread going to work.  I always look forward to it.  Sometimes in the life of the Church there can be politics, ideology,  bickering, joylessness, and backbiting.  But, in my experience working with lay people, this has never been the case.  These people aren't interested in promoting an agenda.  They aren't looking for power or prestige.  They're not looking to "change the Church."  

The people I've worked with, both in the parish and in my community at Boston University, simply love the Gospel and love others.  They are grateful for their relationship with Christ and want to share the joy of that relationship with others.  They do a thousand things better than I could do them.  They are patient with my faults and support me in being a shepherd.  They help me to be a priest.

Pope Francis said a few months ago that shepherds should be so close to their people that they take on the smell of the sheep.  I LOVE smelling like the sheep.  I love being with them, love living with them, love knowing them, love being known by them, love learning from them, love teaching them, love praying with them, love listening to them, love watching them, love feeding them, love eating and drinking with them, love working with them, love witnessing their example, and love seeing the world changed by their love.  

Tonight, as I enjoyed dinner with these amazing people, I was once again grateful that Jesus has given me the privilege to spend my life in the midst of his flock.  I wouldn't want to smell any differently!

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