Living the Gospel – Fifth Sunday of Easter – April 29, 2018

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Many years ago, I had the opportunity to talk with a group of foster mothers from an agency in Brooklyn whose mission was to provide a safe environment for endangered children. Crime was rampant in that neighborhood, and when I arrived at the nearby train station, I saw sidewalks littered with broken glass, gang-tagged buildings and abandoned cars with smashed-out windows. Police cars lined the street. The small agency’s door was barred and locked and I had to wait for it to be opened. A group of women were waiting in a stifling hot room upstairs, crowded onto mismatched furniture and folding chairs. Some brought young children. I couldn’t imagine how I would manage – or why they would even want to talk with me on such a miserable day.

I heard stories of abused children who were in immediate danger being brought to their already overflowing apartments at midnight. I heard their stories of good caseworkers who went to heroic lengths to keep children safe, and I heard stories of disturbed children who threatened the lives of their own families.

Then I asked a woman, “How do you do this, day in and day out, year after year?” She nudged the woman sitting next to her and said: “You tell her.” The woman looked around the room, then she looked at me and said, “I got my Jesus.” Other women nodded their heads.

I think of these women whenever I hear this story of Jesus. For them, Jesus was the vine – the sturdy vine with its deep roots that supported and nurtured them – even as they helped others. They knew who nourished them, and they depended on the power and strength of God even in the darkest times. Even when they thought that they couldn’t manage another minute of their ministry.

Yes, fostering needy children is a ministry. Love, care, food, shelter, clothing – you know, all those “corporal works of mercy” we learned about as children. Their faith, hope, and love made it all possible.

Dorothy A. Hathway, CSJA