Sometimes small occurrences combine in such a way that saying it is just a coincidence is an entirely insufficient explanation. In certain moments, Providence plays a hand and for a brief second you sense that God really is actively working in our world through those around us. At Cristo Rey St. Martin, it seems we are offered more of these moments then most. Probably because we are surrounded daily by talented young people working toward a better future for themselves, their families, and our world. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and with the Hope so integral to Advent, I want to share one of those recent moments witnessed here at CRSM.
Earlier this month, one of our sophomores contacted our Campus Ministry office expressing interest in doing something for others. She was motivated by an event that took place last year at this time in late November/early December. CRSM was in a hybrid schedule at that time and students were only able to come to school two days per week – that is how Rosa and her classmates spent their entire freshmen year at CRSM – but, because she is a thoughtful and compassionate person and because her parents are, too, and because maybe her limited time at CRSM still stressed the importance of being a community of “persons for others,” Rosa described her thinking as follows: “Last year around November or December we saw a man in front of our house and he came to knock on our door to ask for a blanket since it was cold outside. My mom gave him a bed comforter we had and we also gave him a jacket and a hat.” Since it was getting cold again, she thought of that person and then thought he and people like him would be in need again this year.
“Since winter is coming up, I want to do a type of fundraiser or charity thing for the homeless. What I was thinking about was a fundraiser and maybe from that money we can buy some winter essentials, such as jackets, blankets, boots, gloves, scarfs, hats, socks etc. I know that during the winter a lot of homeless people have trouble with this… I don’t know if you are able to help in any way with this or if you can maybe help me look for something to volunteer for?”
Wouldn’t you know it but the very same morning that Rosa reached out, our Campus Minister was contacted by an organization called Cool Ministries. “Rosa came to me shortly after a gentleman from COOL food pantry here in Waukegan had contacted us to see if we’d be willing to host a supply drive for veterans this November.” So, Rosa and about 4 or 5 other sophomores headed up the weeks-long project to collect toilet paper, body soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent, shampoo so that veterans in crisis could also get these special items when they came to the pantry to get food.
I’m reminded of what Jesus said around the table at the Last Supper in John’s gospel:
“Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
May we all be touched by some experience with others – by some chance encounter with a stranger perhaps – and may that be the seed that motivates us to do something out of love. May that seed grow and grow to motivate us to do even more until all we know is love. And by that love others will know God.