Sent to Serve

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The multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, a story of the Eucharist found in today’s Gospel of John, teaches us that the Eucharist is an action. In the Eucharist we are fed by Jesus Himself, and we are sent to serve others. Each of us must be ready to serve each day in whatever situation we find ourselves. It might be within our home, at our job or an unexpected encounter while shopping or vacationing. We must stay alert, open to the opportunity and ready to help.

At times it helps to step out of our normal routine and participate in a mission trip. The experience allows one to focus on service, witness the servant attitude of others and come back to our community more aware of how we can meet the needs of others. While on the recent Catholic Heart Work Camp experience, in Maryland, our students
worked hard, socialized well and participated in many activities, music and prayer experiences. They were asked to serve in a variety of situations and each of them gave their all, whether outdoors clearing yards of elderly homeowners, cleaning up public recreational areas and school properties or indoors distributing food, serving in a soup kitchen or cleaning classrooms. Despite the 103 degree temperature, the students worked hard and even had fun doing it as they met and talked with teens from other states. The students were affirmed in their work by such comments as: “I salute you for what you young people are doing! You have showed us what can be accomplished by volunteers. You are an example to us of how community people could step forward and make a difference;” and a neighbor’s comment: “this is the first time we have seen the ground in that yard for six years.” A custodian who was surprised by our arrival, remarked with tears at the end of the first day….”I will go home tonight and be able to sleep for the first time in many nights, not worried about if the work will get done this summer. You are amazing…all that you are doing for us.” The students saw that just as the boy in the Gospel story met the needs of many when he shared the few fish and loaves of bread that he had, they were able to help many people by using their individual time and talents in the situations they were assigned to.

We too are asked to accept our situation each day and share what we have been given. … time, talent, or material things … for the good of others. Perhaps this week we could ask God to open our hearts to see and feel the needs of others and then to give us a generous spirit to respond….and perhaps it is time to consider a parish adult mission trip.

Peg Orzel