I remember my mother telling me that when she was a little girl growing up in rural Virginia, she was fascinated by the beauty of the goldfinches that would fly around her home. She wanted to catch one to keep as a pet. She would stand very still in the place where the goldfinches frequented and hold out in her hand some seeds of grain to attract the birds. Though she was never successful in catching one, I was always impressed with the fact that she did not try using a net or some other means to trap them. Instead, she tried coaxing them, standing near them quietly.
When I think about ministering to people, that image of my mother often comes to me. It is so very important to stand near the people in their struggles. As ministers in the Church, we do not always have the answers to people’s trials and problems. But it is very important to accompany them in their struggles and their sorrows.
…Accompanying others as Church involves both communal and spiritual elements. It is communal in that accompanying others always involves a willingness to participate in the life of the community in order to understand the people, their concerns, their feelings and their hopes. Accompanying the people often means walking with them as they undertake activities that will shape their future and contributing whatever is possible for them to realize their goals.
Accompanying others has a profound spiritual dimension, because it is an essential part of the evangelization process. When ministers strive to be in solidarity with the people, new possibilities for proclaiming the Word of God arise. The Gospel will resonate with people if they see that it has to do with their day-to-day lives, and that the God being proclaimed is relational, caring and present in their lives, especially in moments of difficulty and pain.
Read on. It’s something everyone in ministry should understand intimately.
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