As Christians we want to help people, or at least, we should want to help people. We see a world that is spiraling out of control. The darkness is growing. New York State legalizing abortion up to birth is a testament to the bloodlust that humanity cannot seem to escape no matter how “civilized” we become. Moloch still desires human sacrifice and we appease him, ask any exorcist. There are injustices on display in our social media feeds and our 24-hour news cycle. True some are manufactured to create outrage, anger, and fear of the “other”, but there is no pretending that our Fallen world is not filled with tragedy, stupidity, evil, and pain.
We rightly ask ourselves: What can I do in the face of such overwhelming darkness? The answer is the same answer it’s always been: Help the people God puts in our path. We are to love and serve our neighbor one person at a time. That is how we help bring the world to Christ and let in more light where darkness pervades. Most of us are not called to be St. Paul and evangelize the Gentiles or stand in front of crowds of thousands of people like Abby Johnson or Lila Rose. All of us are called to grow in holiness so that we can allow God to work through us in our families, friends, parishes, communities, workplaces, strangers, and any people God puts in our path.
Oftentimes in this age of connectivity and technology we sit behind our keyboards pretending that we are exacting serious change by our witty status updates and our standing in unity with whatever the latest cause for unity is at the time. It makes us feel good. We tell ourselves we are a part of something. We may even attend events that are powerful and draw lots of people. I attend the March for Life each year, but that is not even 1% of what God calls me to do each day in the lives of the people around me. Yes, we go to the March for Life because solidarity is extremely important, but it is only 1 day of the year when there are 364 others that require my attention. That’s literally .3% of my year.
The Catholic principles of subsidiarity and solidarity need to make a comeback. It has always been the Church’s position that change happens from the ground up, not the top down. Sweeping reforms and renewals in the Church do not by-in-large come from the pope and the bishops. They come from the souls God raises up from tiny unheard of towns in times of need. St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Teresa, St. Paul. Change begins with one person who then reaches out to other people and they come together in communion. A communion grounded in the love of Christ and one another.
This isn’t some fairy tale or sentimental story to evoke false piety. The saints God raises up live hard lives of sacrifice, rejection, betrayal, and are often cast out by the people they love the most. These saints choose to follow God and to begin with one soul God places in their path and then another and another and before you know it renewal begins to take place. The path to renewal in the Church and in our culture is not somewhere out there. It begins in our own hearts, families, parishes, and towns. Each one of us making the choice to open ourselves up to the divine love and then pouring that love out on others.
I can’t single handedly end abortion, but I can help the man, woman, and unborn child God places in my midst. I can’t bring reform to the Church, but I can pray for, offer up sacrifices, support, and lift up my own priests in whatever way possible as their daughter and sister and hold fast regardless of what happens in the process. I can’t save every drug addict, but my husband can stop and help one, get him a hotel room, give him contact information, and then ask me to pray ardently that this person chooses conversion and a new life. I can’t protect my daughter from the darkness and confusion that is destroying our culture, but I can show her and teach her that the path to sainthood is where real superheroes trod and continue to encourage her to persevere even though I know who’s ultimately trying to prevent her from reaching that goal.
If God hasn’t given us the specific mission and resources to have a huge impact on thousands of people it’s because he’s asking us to impact the people around us first. That’s our mission. If we focus on the big picture, then we will never look at the one God is actually giving to us. We will ignore the people right in front of us because it’s not “good” enough. God’s will isn’t good enough? Our status updates and solidarity in social media means nothing if we aren’t actually helping the people around us and loving the flesh and blood people God puts in our lives. This is not to ignore injustice; it is to practice the much needed virtue of humility. It is to understand our place in the grand scheme of things, a scheme only God has the full picture of. We don’t know how our interactions with others could be a moment of immense grace for someone else.
God is always pouring out his grace throughout our daily lives. We are the ones who limit it or who choose not to cooperate in it, so we avoid what he is asking of us. It doesn’t matter that we aren’t spending every single day chained to a tree at the border fighting injustice or on the steps of the Capitol building or rallying thousands of people to the fight. What matters is how much we love the people who are in front of us. We have the choice to allow God to work through us in order to help the people around us or not. Loving the people in front of us is much harder than standing in virtual solidarity with the starving in Africa. Loving the people who hurt and betray us, that is to love as Christ loves. Can we do that? Change begins here, right now with you and me. Let’s not waste another minute and get to work being conduits of God’s love.