When I was a child, I never moved house between the time I was two and the day I got married. Then I got married, moved 12 times, lived in three different countries and visited more than 20 countries. So I’ve been blessed to see many different faces, in many different places. I’ve seen totally impoverished children in Africa with huge, infectious smiles on their faces. I’ve seen students in a former Soviet republic with anxious looks as they try to learn English to better their lives. And I’ve sat with a British friend grieving her lost pregnancy while trying to maintain the traditional “stiff upper lip.”
Just this week, I’ve had the opportunity to see some more diverse faces. We have a Peruvian student from the Marist school in Lima staying with us, and the look of pure joy on her face and the laughter of her schoolmates when they bounced around in giant plastic balls at Skyzone was precious. As part of the Marist Evening Series, my husband and I visited the Bremen Museum where we heard a Holocaust survivor re-tell his story with both humor and gravity. What really struck me was how he wore a medal with St. Christopher on one side, and the Jewish star of David on the other. During the war, he was hidden by a Christian family who risked their life by keeping him, and he was eternally grateful.
OK…so I’m completely stating the obvious, but it kind of struck me this week that we are all God’s children. Young and old, dying and healthy, foreigner and next door neighbor, Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jew. We are all in this together. Cain asked the Lord, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I think we all know deep down inside that we are, as difficult as that may be sometimes.
So what does that mean practically? Yes, we all know that we – as an outpouring of our faith – are called to do good works for others. We don’t have to drop out of society and haul off to a poor African country, although that’s a wonderful idea. We can pour coffee and hand out donuts at the VA Hospital. We can sign our family up to pack boxes at the Food Bank. We can stand with a basket on the landing at church asking for donations to St. Vincent de Paul. We can donate clothes and food when we are asked. Lent is coming, and the opportunities for service and almsgiving are many.
Where I often fall down on seeing everyone as a child of God is in everyday interactions. When I’m slighted by a family member, cut off in traffic with a rude gesture, or embarrassed by a friend in public, do I see them as a child of God? I know that I should, as we are all adopted children of our Father, and we all fall down, just about every day (or for me, every day!).
I love this song by Matt Maher, “Hold Us Together.” It reminds us that despite our differences, we are not alone. Not ever. Enjoy!
In the same way, all of us, though there are so many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another. – Romans 12:5
If you see the exchange students, please say “hola!” and welcome the stranger.