The Word of God is so clear today and shines a bright light on our own challenges when we are faced with, seemingly, insurmountable difficulties. Personally, I work with another Passionist priest, Fr. Bob Crossmyer, C.P., and a team of laity who are doing everything possible to maintain the launching of a college preparatory high school that invites only students from low income homes ($40,000.00 combined income or less) to attend. They are welcome here, provided they are willing to: 1. work, once week,-at an entry level, corporate job where they earn 70% of their tuition, 2. do homework and maintain good grades, and, 3. set their aim on going to college. This program actually breaks the cycle of poverty (raised in poor neighborhood,get poor education,have poor job, resulting in living in a poor neighborhood).This is the work of Jesus who says to us in the "deserted place" of his day: "They need not go away; you give them something to eat…Bring them here to me." "…here to me," in our case, is the Catholic school system. It is the Body of Christ, the Church working in our midst.
One of the interesting spiritual phenomena in doing something about insurmountable difficulties in Jesus name is that we are changed and transformed in the process. God is going to do what God wills, and desires that we act according to the image of God. That is the shaping and forming that goes on. The image of God in Christ is a powerful one of compassion, not doing miracles. I suppose that Jesus could have said something like "don’t worry guys, I’ve got these resources that will take of it." No, it was the power of compassion. I know the distractions of lack of funds, and, just cutting corners and making excuses are easy cop-outs to faithfully taking action through compassion. Why is a team, a "body," so important? More often than not I don’t feel the compassion, the challenges can drain me. Moses had this issue when he complained to God; he had had it. God would subsequently gather 72 to share in the responsibilities which Moses bore. The compassion of another team member just gives everyone the impetus to follow through. Maybe that is what happened when the disciples began distributing the meager amount of food available and then collected "twelve baskets full" of leftovers. Faith in the face of the insurmountable, through compassion, gets communicated somehow through His Body on earth. It is a matter of paying attention.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is the president of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Ensley, Alabama.