Upon arriving at the soup kitchen on Friday morning, the work begins with the recitation of the Holy Rosary, either with the workers in the kitchen or with those gathered in the dining area. Then after praying Mother Teresa’s “Missionaries of Charity prayer” with the workers, I have the opportunity to give a reflection on the day’s Gospel to those who are in the dining room. This has had a profound effect on me since it has helped me to see how those gathered to receive physical nourishment from the generosity of the sisters were equally, if not more, receptive to the message which flows directly from the mouth of God.
Over the past few months since I began this apostolate, I have gotten to know many of the people who come to the kitchen. Some are regulars while some come periodically. But having the opportunity to speak to them as they wait in line, you receive encouragement from them when they find out you are a seminarian studying to be a Catholic priest. Whether it is someone who compliments you on your reflection, assures you of their prayers for you, or someone who has a critique about what you said, you build up a confidence and bond with those whom you serve, a bond founded on charity and planted by love.
It is amazing to see how sometimes God puts you in places where you think you can help others, when in reality it is you are rejuvenated in your relationship with God through communication with His beloved. In his homily on March 13th of last year when he announced the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said, “I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.” My time with the Missionaries of Charity has shown me firsthand the mercy of God being given to others and His mercy being returned through the graces given through participating in the sisters’ act of selfless mercy. May we always be generous to the most in need and most vulnerable around us so that we may be generous to God when He calls us to be His disciples.
Mary, mother of mercy, pray for us!
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!