By Trevor Thompson, Director of Justice and Peace
In the Gospel story from Scripture for this coming weekend, we hear of the disciples’ eyes opened to Christ’s presence through a heart-felt conversation about their lives and in the sharing of a meal. They were blind, and through this intimate sharing, they now see. This powerful experience left the disciples’ hearts “burning within.” They then returned to their friends and told them about what happened.
Over the past week, I’ve had several parishioners share with me powerful stories of how this dynamic of moving from a state of blindness to a place of seeing is happening right here at St. Francis in our outreach ministries.
Here’s a few glimpses from stories I heard:
A parishioner and her two teenage daughters told me how in sharing a meal of tacos and Spanish rice with Mary and her son James, a homeless family who ate and slept at St. Francis last week with our ministry called Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network (WIHN), their eyes where opened about homelessness and poverty. Hearing about Mary’s tough-luck journey, her brand new job in Rougemont installing solar panels, and the struggles of her 10th grader at Sanderson dispelled the misperceptions that all homeless people are lazy and struggling with addictions. These parishioners, clearly inspired by this encounter, recounted to me their new understanding: “Many, many people are just one paycheck away from homelessness.”
A thirty-something parishioner with two young kids showed up at a recent planning meeting for our ministry that drives migrant farmworkers from their camps to Sunday Mass in eastern NC. This parishioner shared with me how, after a couple times of interacting with the farmworkers over lunch, he began to do some reading on-line about immigration. He reported to me, with what seemed like a “burning heart,” a new understanding of the plight of these migrant farmworkers . I asked him what he shares with his children about this ministry. He tells me, “Jesus was a migrant. I believe he is still alive in the journeys of these men.”
A parishioner recently traveled to downtown Raleigh with St. Francis’ JustFaith program to learn about the non-profit called Love Wins Ministries that provides a ministry of presence to the homeless and at-risk population of Raleigh, NC. While listening to the stories of several Love Wins guests over a pot-luck lunch, this parishioner’s heart began to soften into a place of solidarity. This parishioner tells me, “The blinders have been removed from eyes. I keep thinking of John, one of the guests. I saw the face of God in him. I’ve been telling all my family and friends about JustFaith and Love Wins.”
We have ample opportunities in our St. Francis outreach ministries to have our eyes opened and our hearts touched. We will again be hosting homeless families and starting a new season of our Migrant Ministry in June and a new class of JustFaith in September. Come and see! See the “What’s Up” section of the bulletin for details, or check out “opportunities to serve” on our website.