John 13:21-33, 36-38
Shelly Douglass, director of the local Catholic Worker House in Birmingham, AL, once commented that she always thought that "Jesus meant what he said in the gospels." But it was not until she was in college that she found anyone who agreed with her. She discovered a group of people "who thought Jesus meant what he said and they were trying to do it."
This week called "holy" by Christians is the "DNA," the blueprint, the "matrix" to following in the very footsteps of Jesus Christ, Son of God and our Savior. Consider the plight of this prophet seeking to speak the truth to a corrupt system. For the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 42 as well as for Jesus, disappointment and even betrayal led to their own glorification and the accomplishment of their God-given vocation. Remember "glorification / glory" actually means to fulfill one’s desires, dreams or hopes. We give God glory by fulfilling God’s Will, by living our lives as on mission to serve others, thus fulfilling the hope, the "dream," the Plan of God for the whole universe.
A day does not go by in this mission at Holy Family Cristo Rey that we are not up against yet another obstacle in "breaking the ingrained cycle of poverty" in the minds and hearts of our students. One of those ingrained attitudes has to do with putting off the immediate gratification, that is, looking for the quick fix, the "short-cut," and not taking care of business – homework, applying oneself at the workplace, staying focused. In battling against the cycle, there is not a time where there is not a setback, a defeat, a disillusionment, a disappointment or some battle with oppressive systems. "I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly spent my strength for nothing and vanity;" (Is 42:7) Jesus faces two betrayals among his own followers at the most intimate moment with His closest disciples – announcing His faithful presence in the Eucharist.
The venerable Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P. once pointed out that "instead of dying with bitter frustrations both the servant as well as Jesus realized that they were called into earthly life, not for an earthly ambition, but to achieve a delicate love and a faithful consecration with God and with their neighbors within the scope of their earthly life." I ask myself this question in prayer, "Lord, as I face this challenge in the mission, right now, where can I find you, in my efforts to persevere?" Our choice to respond in faith is to give "glory" with Jesus to the Father. "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him." (Jn 13:36)
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Birmingham, Alabama.