by Cathleen Crayton, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers & sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. (Phil 3:17)
When I was in my twenties, I had a priest mentor who underscored that faith comes in and through our relationships with others. This truth of my priest friend always resonated with me because I have not had the experience of an epiphany of the transfiguration, nor a face-to-face encounter with Jesus in his earthly form. My faith comes from engagement with people of faith who are of this world — brothers and sisters who, in spite of the challenges they have endured or the triumphs they have celebrated, live joyfully and faithfully, never caving into despair or presumption. Following the example of St. Paul, they always give thanks and praise to God for everything.
As I get older and old age becomes less of an abstraction, I reflect on my own accomplishments and failures. I am grateful for what successes I have experienced. I feel disappointed in not having accomplished all that I sometimes think I was meant to accomplish. Loss and death, which have always been on the table, are now more focused, more immediate. I experience dread. But I remember those cloud of witnesses before me and beside me whose own faith was seeded and nurtured through their relationships with others. I remember those saints, living and dead, who also were, and are, no doubt, tempted to succumb to fear and bitterness, but continue instead to look forward to life with hope and courage and, most of all, in joyful anticipation. How blest I am by God who continues to grace me with holy companions on the journey! And I know that I am called to be, and I must be, a faithful witness to the love and joy of God to others, even in the midst of uncertainty.
- Who in my life models faith and joy?
- What does it mean to me to live in joyful anticipation?
* This reflection is from Everything is Grace: Reflections for Lent 2016, now available for purchase and download from the Pax Christi USA Store online.