Dear Pope Francis,
I’ve been thinking a lot about the passion story and service the last couple of days. About how best to use my gifts to serve God and to serve others, and about telling the difference between when I’m really serving others and when I’m serving myself.
Wednesday night, I stayed up until almost 3am agonizing about whether or not I would show up at the Legislature on Thursday in counter protest to the pro-choice rally planned. I thought about what I would do and what I would say if I was the only pro-lifer there, and I thought about the crowd shouting “Crucify him!” when Pilate tried to release Jesus. I thought a lot about Peter’s denial of Christ and for a while, I felt like not going to the rally would be akin to denying Jesus.
When I thought about what I would do and what I would say, I also thought about how people would react, and about the publicity of being the only person there in opposition. I imagined sitting in a chair and knitting all day, with a Bristol board sign stating my opinion. And I decided not to go.
I sat at my desk, and over the course of an hour, wrote by hand the very personal story I had planned to share. It was the first time I had ever committed the entire thing to paper, and when the three sides of loose leaf were covered, I folded them up, sealed them in an envelope and went to bed.
I prayed for the hearts and minds of the people at the rally and for the politicians in the Legislature while I went about my day Thursday, but I did not go downtown until it was time for mass.
At mass, I was struck by Peter’s reluctance over Christ washing his feet. It made me think about how easy it is for me to try and serve others through a phone call to someone I know is lonely, or by knitting another square for charity, or by inviting someone over for supper. But it’s much harder to accept service from others, like rides to church or letting a friend pick up my tab when we go out for a beer and wings, or even just accepting compliments when they’re given (more on that next month).
I try to live to give, but I need to be more open to receiving what others are giving.
Part of that is also being more open to receiving what Christ has to give – forgiveness and grace, unconditional love, and redemption for the whole world. Jesus allowed himself to be tortured and then died in agony on the cross this afternoon to pay the price for my sins. How can I give his love to the people around me if I don’t permit myself to receive his love and his grace?