Feast of Saint James, Apostle
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
"…the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
How do we live our lives? Do we constantly strive to have more money? Will that make us truly happy? Do we have to have the biggest and the best and newest on the market, be it a house, car or some other material object? Or the recognition of authority? Are these the things that define our happiness, make us great? I know a few people who are like this. Does having all this stuff make them great, or better than me?
Or, do we strive to live our lives as Jesus did? Humble, unassuming, serving others out of love and not anticipating the rewards He would receive in return. To me, this is the power of God at work in our own lives. It is the example He set for us as parents, and even grandparents: willingly sacrificing our own needs and wants to fulfill the needs of our (grand)children.
I know no one who lived this better than my maternal grandmother. She and my Great-Grandmother lived together after both were widowed. Gram was 64 when her daughter (my mother) passed away. So instead of relaxing in her "golden years" and enjoying the benefits of a life of hard work, she chose to raise another generation of children, her grandchildren. Gram sacrificed so much in her later life for us. Although my sister was older and on her own, Gram made sure my brother and I always had what we needed, on nothing but Social Security as income. Five of us living in a one bedroom apartment was not easy, but Gram made it easy. So maybe she couldn’t do or have what she needed, but I always had a bed to sleep in, a clean uniform for school, bus fare to get there, and dinner waiting when I got home from work. She somehow managed to buy me a car when I started college so I could get to and from school. She even scraped the money together to pay my brother’s tuition for his senior year in high school so that he could stay and graduate with his classmates. Her ultimate sacrifice came at age 70 when Great-Gram fell and broke her hip and could no longer be alone during the day. Gram quit her job to stay home and care for Great-Gram, while still raising her grandchildren.
This is the example set for me as a child, and I try to do the same now for my children. Material objects do not define who we are as people. What matters is how we live our lives in the example Jesus gave us: serving others out of love and not expecting anything in return but the satisfaction of doing His work.
Claire Smith is on staff at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago, Illinois.