September 8, 2019: The 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

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In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Psalm 90

The year after I graduated college, the Lord led me to take a job at a daycare as an aide in the young toddler classroom. For ten months, my job had me at work before the sun woke up. I spent my days bent low over the floor - bending down to pick up toys or to wipe the floor of vomit and shepherding a dozen babes around the room. Teaching them to sit, stand and walk on their own. Constantly cleaning and comforting. Always wiping noses and tears. Praying over them as I changed their diapers. Praying for patience through their tantrums. Patting their backs, caressing their soft heads, kissing their cheeks, holding them to my chest...All the while discovering within the folds of my heart my deepest longings and aches. Learning to let go - of control, of pride, of my restlessness, of fear.

I knew I wasn’t meant to be there forever. And still, as I said goodbye and held them each close one by one, I surrendered them to the Lord knowing that I had nothing left to give them. And that day as I left work, I cried. Like, ugly cried. They would never know who I was or how much I loved them for that brief moment when they were so little. They will never remember me. I probably will never know who they will grow up to be, or what they will grow up to teach the world. But I do know what they taught me.

In that year, the Lord revealed to me every day another piece of what it means to live out radical poverty - the kind of surrender and obedience seen in today’s Gospel and in Paul’s gift of Onesimus: “I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.”

If there’s anything I have learned in the past several years of constant transition and surrendering, it is that nothing belongs to me. I am poor and little in the eyes of the Lord - but it is His delight to give me the Kingdom! Everything is grace; all is gift! It is a gift freely given, and being a disciple means renouncing all our possessions, relationships and desires for the sake of the Gospel. But fear not! Jesus does not always mean for us to literally renounce our family and run away from everything that has ever meant anything to us. Rather, he simply invites us to ask the question: am I willing to mirror the authentic, self-gift of the Father? Am I free to abandon my own desires and will? Do I believe that He is worth it? If we see everything as gift as Jesus did, then the only natural response is to say, “Father, they are your gift to me. I am sending it all, that is, my own heart, back to you. Because nothing belongs to me.”

Laurie Medina is a graduate of Texas A&M and a first year participant in the Echo Graduate Service program, through which she has been sent to work at a parish in Houston while working on her Masters in Theology through the University of Notre Dame. When she isn’t studying she loves spending time outside, having heart conversations over coffee, and finding beauty in the holy ordinary. You can find her curled up on the couch re-reading Joy of the Gospel, or arranging flowers on the dining room table. You can also find her on Instagram or read her latest blog posts for Life Teen.