Recently, I found myself in front of the house, doing a project. This is a rarity, in that, for most of the past year, I've been renovating the inside of the house. I haven't really had time to do the exterior work. At least not yet. And it was especially rare, on this particular day, to be in the front yard, as I was supposed to be elsewhere. But plans get reconfigured, derailed at times for a reason. And this reason was....Mandi!
Mandi drove up in her car, stopped, got out, looked across the street and then towards me and said, 'Help!' Mandi was in an abusive relationship. She was fleeing from it and was seeking help. As I started conversing with Mandi it became clear she was hungry. Being half Italian, I knew what to do! As I prepared a plate of food, my two girls, Jean and Susannah, had opposite reactions as to what to do with Mandi. One daughter wanted to do whatever it took to relieve Mandi of her sorrows. The other told me, 'We can't do this!' This was all too much for her, too unplanned and out of the ordinary. As Mandi ate, although in distress, she still found it in her heart to complement my girls. The whole occasion reminded me of the Gospels, specifically John 6, where Jesus' inerrant word says 'I am in you.' Saint Teresa of Calcutta took these words to heart, as she cared for many parts of Jesus by caring for the poorest of the poor in India. So it was with Mandi. There was Christ before us. So, to my daughter who said 'we can't do this', my response was automatic, 'This is what Catholics do; we help our neighbors.' And so, we did.
In Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich's visions, she relays Jesus' relationships. He is an intimate friend to newlyweds, teaching them the meaning of the marital sacrament, like the couple married in Cana. He has very close friends, such as Lazarus. He spends time with those who want to spend time with him. He is always loving, teaching and sacrificing within the context of a relationship, a true friendship.
Philosopher and theologian Dietrich Von Hildebrand reiterates in his Transformation in Christ that our faith in the person of the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is a 'personal' one. After all, we have three persons who make one God. And one, the Holy Spirit, seems the most personal, as He is the person of love that binds the Father and Son in perpetual grace and mercy. If I close my eyes and envision what He looks like, the picture is very personal, as it is agape love. The best relationship I'll ever have is with Him, the embodiment of love. You can't get more personal than that!
So, am I relating in the way God intended? Am I playing it safe, sticking to people that I know, taking no risks, just being a lukewarm Christian? Or, will I relate with the next Mandi who comes across my path? Will I help her, sacrifice for her, as Christ did for me?
Dane Baird has been a witness member of the Home of the Mother for 3 years. He has two daughters, Jean and Susannah. The newest addition to the family is Halo, wonder-dog! His profession is teaching autistic children and he enjoys acting in several parish and diocesan ministries, as well as supporting the Home of the Mother.