I am back in Louisiana after being in Mexico for the past three weeks. On November 12, all of us went out into the countryside of General Cepeda and opened the long-awaited envelopes that would tell us where we’re going. I’m pleased to say I’m going to Picota, Peru! The whole trip to Mexico was a great experience filled with surprises, hardships, laughter, and tears. However, I’m not going to post every little detail that happened on the trip because it would be too hard to describe. Instead, I’m going to talk about a theme that has been on my heart and mind–how loving another deeply is a heavy cross to carry.
Loving another person deeply is beautiful and tragic at the same time. I’m not just talking about Romeo-and-Juliet-romantic love. In my life, it has been loving another as a sister or brother in Christ and loving someone when I know an end is soon. When you love someone, you put your whole heart and soul into that person. The scariest part is that, eventually, one person will leave whether out of their own choice or not.
Loving another recklessly is something that I have struggled with over the past couple years but especially have kept in mind these past 3 weeks in Mexico. We encountered so many faces of the poor and I was scared. I was scared to truly love them for so many reasons. I was scared to only love them for such a short time. I was scared that they would see right through me and all my weakness. Jesus has such a heart for the poor. It is written throughout His life in the Gospels. In all the poor’s need, they have an advantage when getting into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus even says so:
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
How could I, someone who to most of the world is considered “rich,” love these people well?
The voices of the world and the lies about mission life plagued me over the past few weeks. I should be doing more. I should be giving them more money and meeting more material needs. Who do I think I am to do this work?
And parts of those statements are true. You see, if, in my time of mission, I give the poor only myself and all my resources, I’ve failed. I’ve failed because I will not last. Even if I were to remain in one place with generous donations for the rest of my life, I would fail the people because one day I would be gone. These people, who have so little and deserve so much, have the right to be more, not just have more.
St. Pope John Paul II put it so well in his encyclical letter titled Mission of the Redeemer (I wish I could just copy and paste the entire thing into this post to have you all read it but that would be way too long):
“It is not the Church’s mission to work directly on the economic, technical or political levels, or to contribute materially to development. Rather, her mission consists essentially in offering people an opportunity not to ‘have more’ but to ‘be more,’ by awakening their consciences through the Gospel (p. 75)”
This. This is why we bring love of GOD to the poor. This is why we bring the TRUTH that is the Gospel. Even when I and other missionaries inevitably misstep and fail to love perfectly, even when our resources run out, even when we are called to leave,
GOD WILL REMAIN.
Praise Jesus for His everlasting love that is so constant amidst an imperfect world. I have found a new reason to love when it hurts and threatens to tear at my heart. Love is intimidating, but God is bigger.
If you’d like to read more about the people of Mexico, I suggest reading my dear friend MaRisa’s blog here. She has a wonderful account of some of the poor in General Cepeda.