Community Reflection: Journeying Together
By Katie Mulembe, Catholic Volunteer Network
“Jesus called together his twelve apostles and gave them complete power over all demons and diseases. Then he sent them to tell about God’s kingdom and to heal the sick. He told them ‘Don’t take anything with you! Don’t take a walking stick or a traveling bag or food or money or even a change of clothes.’” – Luke 9:1-3
Phil is a guy that I’ve gotten to know over the past year. I go to church at his house every Sunday. I know you are probably envisioning a small Christian community that meets in someone’s living room – no, that’s not it. This is a regular Church with pews and an altar. On most nights, Phil sleeps on the ground outside of the Church doors. He uses the bathrooms when the Church is open and gets his meals out of the canned goods donation basket. Phil is homeless.
Phil and I are in the same small group that meets on Sundays after Church – and this is where I’ve gotten to know him best. We’ve spent time digging in to the Gospels together, learning how each one paints a unique portrait of Jesus, and has a distinctive message for its readers. We read a couple chapters together, then ask questions about the text and share about the ways it speaks to us personally. Week after week, Phil brings the Gospel to life for me. Recently we were talking about the verses in Mark and Luke where Jesus instructs his Apostles to go out into the world, taking nothing with them for the journey. This is a verse I thought I understood well, especially after spending time living simply and saying ‘yes’ to a few years of service. I talked about the comfort I receive hearing these verses, knowing that God is always going to take care of my needs. Phil spoke next, taking a different angle. “Whenever I’m out on the street and someone gives me food, I always try to share it with my friends,” he said “because we are all on this journey together.”
For the next several minutes, I sat silently soaking up the wisdom I had just heard. I was so moved by this man, who didn’t know how or when he would find his next meal, explaining that his own needs were just as important to him as his neighbor’s needs. The Church is his home - and his family. Through Phil, I heard God nudging me further, asking me to love more deeply, and trust Him a little more. I learned that being a disciple is not only about trusting that God has a plan for your life, it also means being Christ for your neighbor. While looking for God all around you, don’t forget that God also dwells within you.
I have to admit, when Phil started coming to our small group, I thought to myself “I’m glad he’s here. This is a great opportunity for me to minister to him today.” Now whenever he shows up for a meeting, my thoughts are quite different - “I’m glad he’s here. I know God is going to minster to me today.” Phil is teaching me the great value of listening closely and learning to hear God’s voice in even the most unexpected places.
Questions for community reflection:
1. How have you unexpectedly heard God’s voice in the people you serve?
2. Are there times that God has spoken to you through a community member?
3. After learning to live simply, what do you still struggle to trust God for?
Shared Visions is a collaborative effort of Catholic Volunteer Network and the Catholic Apostolate Center. To contribute a story for an upcoming issue, please contact Katie Mulembe at firstname.lastname@example.org.