The following article, written by CRCDS student Laura Bachmann appeared in the May issue of The Rochester Catholic Worker.
As a person of faith, and a seminary student, I have spent what some may consider an inordinate amount of time pondering what it means to live out my faith. Attending worship, joining the outreach team, reading the Bible, serving on the church session – these things are easy. But how do we respond to Jesus’ call in Matthew 25 to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned? How do we embody Jesus’ call in Luke 4 to join him in a ministry that he describes as bringing good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed? These things, well, these things are hard. They require us to truly see the plight of those around us. They require us to listen to, and help to carry, the heartbreaking stories of our brothers and sisters who wrestle with these life-denying situations every day. And they require us to look deeply at our own complicity with systems that oppress and abuse those on the margins. Sometimes, it just seems impossible. What can one person possibly do to make a difference in the face of such overwhelming injustice?
This, of course, is where faith comes in. I have learned at St. Joe’s that we make a difference first by simply showing up. We attend to the acts of mercy painted so beautifully on the wall of our hospitality room. We welcome the stranger, and offer food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, shelter to those without a warm bed at night. We listen with love and interest. We laugh and tell stories together. And as we become a community, bound together by a common humanity and our identities as precious children of God, each bearing God’s image and carrying the deep worth of someone carefully and wonderfully made, we begin to see the bigger picture of the concrete work to be done. We move from stories to action – we begin to gather resources and form tenant unions; we march for political change; we speak out when we see injustice. And we trust, trust that God is doing a new thing in this place, that resurrection always follows death and that if we but begin the work, take those first tentative steps, the Holy Spirit will show up and move mountains we could not have dreamed of shifting.
Perhaps this sounds like those proverbial rose-colored glasses donned to block out the harsh light of need and injustice, but as one single person of faith, I know no other way than to follow Jesus’ example of presence among those society would cast aside, to show up and pray and work and look for the next right thing to do. I am deeply grateful for the community of St. Joe’s for their warm welcome and generous willingness to enfold me into their community. It is a first step. Faith says I must trust that it is enough for today