Eventually, she asked me a question I had not been asked before.
“Where is God for you?” Out of my mouth, without any hesitation, came my reply “You are God for me.”
We were both stunned.
She put her biro on the desk, sat up straight and just looked at me.
The answer was not written on paper. I hoped that it would have been written in her heart.
My words made me sit up and think.
Did I really mean what I had just said?
If I did, then did my actions and words live up to my statement?
Jesus’ words came into my head: “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)
We are told to think globally and to act locally.
Education is such a powerful tool.
We have the opportunity in our schools to raise awareness for all those who suffer, whether through poverty, oppression or illness. It is easy to talk about the problems that are far distant.
But do we walk the talk? Social Justice is able to be incorporated into our curriculum.
Young people, in their own way, can be generous with their time, energy and creativity to assist in these areas.
It is even more impressive if this is continued after they leave school.
Lately, I have heard of several instances where our young people have done precisely that.
One alumna wanted to buy a bus for the Presentation Sisters who worked in a remote village in India.
When the students went there for their immersion, they were faced with a situation where the little children from the surrounding areas were not able to travel to the school as it was too far to walk.
The money for the bus was the easy part, as she then realised that funds would be needed to pay for a driver and for petrol on an annual basis.
That was accomplished.
She went with the next Immersion group from the college to present the money for the bus.
Then the real trouble began.
The Sisters were not permitted to buy a bus as the school was not registered.
The school was not registered as the Sisters could not afford to pay the registration fees.
With great difficulty she overcame that hurdle.
Then they went from garage to garage until at the last garage was one that sold “small buses”. They actually had one available.
Another alumna has just emailed me to tell me that the project that she started when she was doing volunteer work in Kenya has just been registered as an NGO.
The youth collected the garbage from the dirt roads and then after processing it were able to sell it.
This kept them off the streets and as well they earned money to keep their group going and provided some income for themselves – an environmentally sustainable business initiative.
Many of our youth are generous, determined and compassionate.
I still needed to answer the question, if I really meant what I said, how did I treat the people in my community, especially the most vulnerable?
If we really believe in Jesus’ words “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40), then we must treat the other with the respect, care and concern we would give to God.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.