Touching the Crowds by Touching One
April 17, 2016
-Mary Wright Baylor
This spring, the annual blossoming of Washington, DC’s magnificent cherry trees overlapped with Holy Week, Easter, and spring break. Each year, throngs of visitors, both local and those who travel a distance on a lifetime pilgrimage, come to see the glory of these trees. As an avid college basketball fan, I envy the crowds that are able to secure tickets for the March Madness games and watch the individuals in either agony or ecstasy. During Holy Week and the Triduum, huge numbers attend church services, some as part of their weekly spiritual life or for others, only for these very holy days each year. This year, I’ve been thinking about these juxtaposed events and the commonality of their large, exuberant crowds.
“Throngs.” “Crowds.” These words are used so often to describe those who came to see Jesus and later, his disciples as described in the Acts of the Apostles. What is it that draws these masses of people, these throngs, to see someone? Consider the Pope. It is always moving for me to see those that travel long distances to be part of a papal mass. What is their motivation? Is it out of a sense of obligation or a true desire to see the Pope? Perhaps, some come to hear a great preacher or to be able to say, “I’ve seen the Pope.” Since his consecration, Pope Francis has become an international celebrity and sensation. For this particular Pope, however, I suspect if you polled the masses, you would learn that many are drawn to him in particular for far deeper reasons. They may want to see this man, who like Jesus, lives an extraordinary life of compassion, caring for the least, and loving all without judgement. Some might describe how they are drawn to his joyful manifestation of the Good News.
In this Eastertide, we should be inspired by Pope Francis to take the true meaning of our faith into our own neighborhoods and communities. How can we “simple folk” but fellow Christians live our lives so demonstrably filled with love, care, and compassion that people are drawn to us? How can we exude the Good News so that others are curious about what gives us inestimable joy?
“Throngs.” “Crowds.” Impressive words, but possibly more meaningful is touching the soul of one solitary other person. In these 50 days, may you seek to “attract” or “draw” people to your demonstrable and palpable faith. You don’t need a throng or crowd. One person is a great start. Just remember the words from the Gospel of Matthew, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Think of a time when your kindness or joy attracted someone to you. How did you share the foundation of your kindness or joy with them? Write about it. Use social media as your “throng” or “crowd”. Share this story, using #50days and #resurrection and help spread the Good News.