Monday, August 2, 2010

The difference between a seed and a human...(A Lawrence experience)

The difference between a seed and a human is that humans have legs! In the silence and depth of every human soul lies that tiny seed that was given to us by God. I can not help but to relate my experience in Lawrence, Massachusetts as the parable of the Sower and the Seed. The farmer in Jesus parable (Mat 13:1-23) tends to cast seeds everywhere! And of course, some get eaten by birds, some sprout but the winter, some get choked out by weeds and some yield varying amounts of grain. At the end of the story, Jesus says “they who have ears, let them hear.” In other words, he wants us to learn something and take some action steps.

It was a tremendous honor to have had the privilege to serve the people of Lawrence. Lawrence is the 22nd poorest city in the nation, in 2007, only 41% of the students graduated from high school in four years. 21.2% of the families, 34% of the population live well below the poverty line. I am so grateful for Lazarus House Ministries, which I believe is the most well developed community service I have ever seen. To have been part of a Catholic organization that welcomes all in the name of God, truly exemplifies the heart and mission of the Church: to love, serve and make Him known.

Dont make fun of the apron, the cooks made me wear it!

Through Lazarus House Ministries, I truly saw a mission that stretched beyond offering food, shelter, clothing, advocacy, job training, and medical care but rather a group of people who were not afraid to water seeds and take charge to rebuild families and welcoming them with an open heart. I realized what a person goes through in a lifetime, I was going through in a day. At one moment I was rejoicing in playing with babies and kids who live at Lazarus Homeless shelter

The next moment I was at the Boys and Girls Club getting jumped by kids because I beat them in basketball...or they beat me?

Another moment I was tutoring teenagers at Central Catholic High School…

The next moment, I was serving food to homeless mothers and fathers at Good Shepherd Soup Kitchen

The next moment I was dancing and laughing with my dear cooks. Or maybe they were laughing at me for not speaking Spanish.. Marissa, Nicole, Kyrsie and Anna.

The next moment I led Bingo night for families at the transitional housing unit: Capernaum Place.

The next moment I was at the food pantry helping dish out food to over 500 families...

The final moment, I was at Corpus Christi assisting at the HIV/AIDS residence as some of them prepared for death.

One of the highlights of this summer came when I was working at the food pantry. My role that afternoon was to stand by the food cans and make sure that people only grabbed two cans so that there would be enough food for the rest of the families. This older gentlemen, who was wearing a rosary and crucifix around his neck, had a staggered limp to his step, and spoke minimal English. As he approached my station he looked at me and opened his bag. I stood there froze not knowing what he was trying to do. I looked at him and said in Spanish, “escoja lo que usted desea” (Pick whatever can you want) and his eyes opened wide and his hands started to tremble and with tear-filled eyes he said, “tengo una elección (I have a choice)?”...I looked at him and said "of course!".

I believe this man's thought of not having a choice represent many Catholics today who do not choose to engage their faith. Catholics who look like wheat plants and their faith is fruitless. Catholics who receive the sacraments but disappear somewhere between age 18 and 35. Catholics who have frail roots and collapse under the head of the world. They don't use their legs and move forward. Instead of seeking their roots into Scripture, Tradition, prayer and the sacraments through Jesus, they sink their roots into apathy and dryness.

I am so glad that God granted me the opportunity to be a beacon of hope to people. I truly live by one motto...St. Edith Stein once said "If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to God".I guess the parable of the sower has a twofold message: as seed, our job is to get busy growing. As farmers, our job is to get busy sowing. We as farmers are commanded by God through this parable to get the seed out there, sowing it everywhere we go, undeterred by the birds, the weeds and the scorching sun. So let us remember to always move forward into our faith and bring people the light of Christ!:)

Oh ya, I also had the chance to travel the New England States: Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.

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