Jesus chose ordinary people, just like you and me, to be his disciples. He built his Church, not through a well-funded advertising campaign, but through touching interpersonal encounters, public miracles and teaching and preaching to the people.
You and I are “everyday disciples,” and we don’t even know it! But God is watching. He sees our every move, and nothing gets past his watchful eye. While you and I are focusing on all the mistakes we made today, our loving God is smiling over all the ways in which he used us to be his disciples, right here in our everyday lives.
Yvonne works a low-paying office job. Her husband, Bert, passed away four years ago. They had no children. Yvonne now lives a quiet life, filled with gaps of loneliness and sadness as she remembers her beloved Bert, who died suddenly at the age of 67. Yvonne is preparing to retire, but she fears being all alone in that empty house, with time on her hands. She calls the parish office to ask if there is something she can do to help her church. They are looking for lectors, but Yvonne is scared to death of reading in public. They could use a sacristan to help out at the 7:30 Mass during the week, but Yvonne tells the volunteer coordinator that she would feel too nervous to do anything like that. Well, there is the candle job. Yvonne’s interest is piqued. The coordinator explains that the parish needs someone to come in on Saturday mornings to clean the wax out of the votive holders and place new candles in them. This is the job for Yvonne!
Yvonne looks forward to her Saturday ministry. She attends the 7:30 a.m. Mass and then goes to her car to fetch the supplies. She spends the next couple of hours chipping at the wax that has stuck to the red and blue votive holders. On many Saturday mornings, she works quietly, while a few faithful kneel in prayer or stand in line waiting for Father Olsen to hear their confessions. On some Saturdays, she is joined by Max, an 80-something year old man with wispy grey hair and an infectious smile. Max calls her “St. Yvonne,” because he says she does the hardest job in the parish. Yvonne enjoys talking with Max. They talk about what it is like to lose a spouse, how to make the perfect chocolate cake and what heaven will be like, if they are lucky enough to get there.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, another everyday disciple is about to be called to ministry, without even realizing it!
Jeff is a 35 year old father of two. He travels 15 miles on Sunday mornings to visit his grandmother, who is in a care facility. Jeff waters her plants, shares a cup of coffee and listens to her talk about the old days. The visits rarely last more than 30 minutes, as Grandmother always drifts off to sleep, sitting in her favorite chair. Jeff quietly exits the room and heads down the hall toward the elevator. As he passes an open door, he spots a gentleman sitting alone in his room. Their eyes meet and the old gentleman motions for Jeff to come in.
Jeff enters the room and obediently takes a seat, as the old gentleman directs him to the chair immediately opposite where he is seated. Jeff feels uneasy and wonders why he has been summoned to the room. The man grabs a large book with a well-worn cover from his bedside table. He opens the book and begins to share the story of his early days. He points to pictures of himself and his brother when they were younger. He turns the page and gazes at the beautiful woman in the long, white dress. His eyes water as he shares that this is Emma, his bride. He tells Jeff that today is their wedding anniversary. It would have been 70 years of marriage today, if Emma had lived. He asks Jeff about his family. Jeff takes out his cell phone to show him pictures of his kids and his wife. Soon they are talking baseball and the good old days. Jeff’s Sunday morning visit to his grandmother has turned into an unplanned visit with an old man, who desperately needed to share his life with someone. The two men embrace as Jeff announces that he has to go. Jeff smiles all the way to the car. Wait until the kids hear this story!
God continually places people and events in our lives. Each day we meet people in need, and God gives us a chance to be everyday disciples by sharing His love. Whether it is chipping wax out of the votive glasses or sharing life stories with a new friend, God uses us right where we are. I wonder what God has planned for you today.
In Christ who calls us,