Reflections on the Daily Readings
from the Perspective of Creighton Students
September 9th, 2013
Bio | Email: AnneFerguson@creighton.edu
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” (Lk 6:9)
Being a camp counselor at The Pines Catholic Camp for two summers taught me more than I could imagine—about life, faith, and how to work with kids—but I never counted on it giving me a new appreciation for the little things.
As my co-counselors would surely agree, it’s the little things that get you through nine or more weeks of summer camp in desert-like Big Sandy, Texas. The first few weeks after training you serve with reckless enthusiasm; you’re bursting forth with raw energy and the excitement that’s been building since you were hired in November. Come week five or six, though, you hit a wall. Suddenly our service takes on new meaning. You have to take the leap from serving your campers through your own capacity—your own energy and joy—to serving them through Christ’s grace alone.
It’s right around week five or six that the camp games get old, that you’ve made one too many treks across camp to find a forgotten water bottle, that you’ve spent too many nights awake with homesick campers. This is when you learn that you aren’t at camp for your own personal entertainment or enjoyment, you’re here to serve, you’re here to do yet another belly-flop for a cheering crowd, to let a camper dump water on your head if she’ll just eat her dinner, to offer your flip-flops to a camper who can’t find her shoes and then walk barefoot back to your cabin.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering how this could possibly relate to the Gospel passage for today. I think what grabbed me the most about this reading was Jesus calling the Pharisees to live out their faith, and I think we can do this by doing the little things with much love.
Jesus questions the Pharisees’ strict, rule-bound faith that excuses them from helping the needy on the Sabbath. Christ challenges them to live their faith rather than let it be bound by rules; His healing the man’s withered hand throws this challenge in their faces and reminds us that we are meant to live a faith that does justice, ours is meant to be a faith in action.
Our faith is grounded in Church teaching, yes, but it is not bound by or exemplified merely through these teachings. Our faith isn’t just reciting the Nicene Creed every Sunday. It’s putting into action what we believe on paper. The Pharisees let themselves get caught up so much in the rules of their religion that they failed to live out their faith. But Jesus calls us to put our faith into action.
While we may not be able to physically heal someone who is hurting, I’d like to suggest that we focus on doing the little things for others. It’s true that right around weeks five and six that camp counselors get exhausted and need to draw deep into the well of grace in order to love our campers. It’s also true that this is when we start relying on the little things—little graces, perhaps—to help carry us through. When a camper says something so ridiculously funny you both burst out laughing, when a counselor writes you a random note of affirmation, when your favorite song is played during a camp activity, these are the little things that cheer your heart, that spur you forward to love heroically.
We all have these experiences: A random stranger flashes you a much-needed smile, a coworker takes time out of their day to help you with a project, or a child simply tells you they love you. We know how much these little things mean to us, and I would argue that these could save a life just as much as an actual healing can. So often in this world all we need is to hear that we are loved, all we need is to know that we are special, that we are valued, all we need is a little acknowledgment and we can persevere through any struggle. We may never know how doing one simple-seeming action makes a lasting impact on someone. I believe it is here, in doing the little things we appreciate so much, that we live out our faith.
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