In this annual series, current and former volunteers reflect on the Lenten Gospels and the Four Pillars of Faith-Based Service: Social Justice, Simplicity, Community and Spirituality. Presented by Catholic Apostolate Center and Catholic Volunteer Network.
Third Sunday of Lent Reflection By Sarah Hopkins, Christ House
“Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy
ground.” – Exodus 3:1-8A, 13-15
In the first reading preceding today’s Gospel, God comes as a mysterious, awe-inspiring, radiant, burning bush calling to Moses. God tells him to remove the sandals from his feet because he’s standing on holy ground. Initially, Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God – he probably had all kinds of practical reasons to ignore this lofty mission to rescue the people of Egypt, but he listened and responded.
When I think of being barefoot, I think of vulnerability and trust, which is exactly what God is calling us to. God’s call is often mysterious, awe-inspiring, alarming, challenging, and maybe even a bit dangerous, just like the burning bush – calling us to take off our shoes, bring ourselves into God’s presence, listen, and respond. God delights in drawing us into his mission, we must only open ourselves up to recognize the call. Working for social justice presents at times both great joy and great sadness, great accomplishments and great challenges. But the most important thing to remember is that God is there through it all, and it is holy.
One of the songs we often sing at Christ House proclaims, “This is holy ground, we’re standing on holy ground. Because God is present, and where He is is holy.” Staff and patients alike repeat this refrain over and over, challenging ourselves to recognize God in all the little moments around us. What an amazing reminder this is – in the midst of all the daily challenges we might experience, God is always
with us, making our days holy and beautiful.
Come, Holy Spirit, inspire me to come closer to You, to take off my shoes and recognize the holy ground that I stand on in Your constant presence. Open my heart, so I will not be afraid to listen to You calling my name. Allow my heart to burn with love for You and for Your people, and walk with me in every moment as I go forth as your feet in the world.
Come, Holy Spirit, inspire me to be love.
Focus on Simplicity
While God’s call is uniquely challenging for each person, it is also quite simply rooted in love. In the Gospel today, Jesus tells a parable about a man who has a fig tree that has stopped bearing fruit. He wants to cut it down, but the gardener petitions to leave it for another year so he may cultivate and fertilize it with the hope that it will bear fruit in the future. Our souls are the same – if we want to bear fruit in our call to service and justice, we must cultivate the ground that we are rooted in.
Living in community, we frequently eat of the same literal food and drink, but how often as a community do you eat and drink from the same “spiritual rock” that is Christ? How can you cultivate a community that is rooted in Christ, desiring only what is good? Living simply in intentional community tempts one to have practical desires for material things. But how can you, both as a community and personally, work to focus on the spiritual simplicity of remaining rooted in the call to God’s love rather than the material simplicity of your circumstances during your year of service?
Who Inspires You to Serve?
I don’t think I could pick a single person who inspires and encourages me in my service. I have been inspired by so many people along the way, including countless examples of loving service at Villanova University and an incredibly supportive community here at Christ House. It is so encouraging to be surrounded every day by people who commit their lives to working for social justice in whatever way they can, despite the challenges and setbacks. I am so encouraged and inspired by the simple, yet all too uncommon, act of just loving people.
Sarah Hopkins is a second-year volunteer, serving as the Case Management Assistant at Christ House, a medical respite facility for homeless men in Washington, DC. Before serving at Christ House, she graduated with a BS and MS in Biology from Villanova University. She is currently spending her free time reading the Harry Potter series for the first time and planning her wedding!
Looking for more reflections like this one? We invite you to download our Lenten Reflection Guide in its entirety, available by clicking here. You can also find an extensive library of Lenten resources by visiting the Catholic Apostolate Center website – click here.