One of these days, perhaps I’ll learn to take Jesus at his word.
In the gospel passage we heard on Sunday, for example, there was this gem:
Jesus said, ‘Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.’
As it happened, I heard these words proclaimed by one of my sons on Sunday morning.
Gerri and I were in Kansas City over the weekend, visiting Chris—where he’s serving as Parochial Vicar (aka Associate Pastor) at St. Francis Xavier parish near Rockhurst University.
It was certainly poignant to hear that bit about ‘giving up…mother or father’ coming from his lips. And it’s the truth of the matter, too: His vocation as a Jesuit means we don’t get to see Chris all that often. So in a sense, he—and we—have given up something…the simple joy of having family close by…for the sake of the gospel.
On Sunday morning, though, we received a remarkable return on our investment—just as Jesus promised. As we stood next to Chris in the gathering space after Mass, a woman walked up to greet us. Like several other parishioners, she expressed her gratitude for Chris’ ministry and his presence at the parish. Then she said something a bit different than all the rest: ‘For a long time now, I’ve gone to Mass begrudgingly. Your son is starting to change that, though. His homilies—they’ve softened the grudge a bit.’
With that, she was gone.
But not before Gerri and I noticed that we had tears of gratitude welling up in our eyes, over this one heart moved (if even only a smidge) by our son’s ministry.
Chris would be the first to say, of course, that it’s really Christ—and Christ’s grace—at work in this woman’s life. And that’s precisely the point: That Christ does use us, imperfect vessels though we are, to bear the Good News to hearts in need of Christ’s love…and light…and mercy…and grace.
A simple ‘yes’ on our part is all it takes to unlock this divine treasure chest, Jesus says.
In choosing to follow him, we become stewards of wealth untold.
Not a bad gig at all.
Suscipe — A prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.
Beautiful. Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for sharing this story. If memory serves me, research reveals many parents discourage vocations because they want grandchildren. And yet, I’ve hread and witnessed many stories like the one you experienced. A parent of a priest or religious often gains an entire community of “grandchildren” and others who are incredibly grateful for helping a young person develop and become a servant leader in their religious community. May the gift you and other parents gave to our church continue to bless you and others hundreds of times over.