by Kathy Keary, Kearney, Missouri Companion
A couple of years ago, I attended Peace Circle training in Chicago facilitated by Fr. Dave Kelly and Fr. Bill Nordenbrock. I was looking forward to Fr. Dave’s presentation at the Assembly because I find his work both fascinating and inspiring. My reflection is in response to Fr. Bill’s invitation to bring Fr. Dave’s message to our own context.
Fr. Dave grabbed my attention early on when he discussed how most of our lives are spent in the tension between brokenness and the hope that is our faith—the joy of the Resurrection. Within this tension, we witness to the possibilities that Resurrection offers; however, we are not in denial in regard to the reality of life. It’s tough. There are crosses to bear. Ministers of reconciliation are all about the “muddled mess.”
It was encouraging to hear Fr. Dave say the most important gift he offers is faithfully showing up, often clueless to what will unfold or the words that will flow from his mouth—words only God knows needs to be heard. I am drawn like a magnet to ministries serving people marginalized by life circumstances. For the past several years, I ministered with those challenged by severe and persistent mental illness. Any hardship I have encountered significantly pales in the face of the hurdles and struggles mentally ill people cope with on a daily basis. I am an ambassador of hope; placing God’s message of love, peace, and compassion into the “muddled mess” every day. By faithfully showing up, my presence offers a space for them to talk about God and to remember once again He is with them. I have no degrees in psychology; I am simply responding to God’s call with the Spirit and the Word of God. It’s a privilege to accompany those I serve—to be a part of and a witness to their courageous story. I am just getting my feet wet in prison ministry, but it is clear God is asking me to create space for inmates to be touched by Christ bringing hope.
The story of the Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4:1-42) is about the ministry of presence. The passage opens with Jesus resting at the well, tired from his journey. Despite his fatigue, he focuses his total attention on the Samaritan woman when she arrives. An amazing transformation follows. At the Samaritans’ request, Jesus stays a couple more days. The lives He touched were changed as they came to believe He was truly the savior of the world. Because of His presence, they were able to shift from a worldly philosophy to one centered in Christ. Let us also be bearers of hope, beacons of reconciliation by faithfully showing up to the ministry God is calling us to, extending the gift of our presence to those longing for a sacred encounter.