Our lives are a pilgrimage to seek out and meet our Lord. We often meet him here in Church. We meet him in the Word of God and in the Eucharist. We meet the Lord in those who reach out to us for help. We meet the Lord within ourselves as He reaches out to others through us. Do we ever think about what we receive when we reach out to help others? Yes, there is that warm, fuzzy feeling. We feel good about ourselves. There is nothing wrong with that, but there is a lot more that we receive. We receive God’s Grace. We are given a dose of humility. We are not concerned with completing an assignment or service hours. We want to do it again and again because we are experiencing God.
I have to tell you a story I heard Fr. John Fullenbach, relate regarding his time working with Blessed Mother Theresa in Calcutta.
Long before Mother Theresa became an international celebrity, her work among the poorest of the poor in Calcutta. Fr. John Fullenbach is a professor in Rome. One year he had a lot of time between the semesters he was teaching, so he decided to go to India and work alongside Mother Theresa and her sisters. He relates that he felt very good about himself on the plane on the way to India.
One day Fr. Fullenbach went to a table where there were rags that had been cleaned and cut into strips to be used as bandages. He was asked to use his free time to roll them up. He was doing this for about a half hour when he heard a child start screaming. There in the opposite corner of the large room a young sister was trying to wash a ten year old girl. The poor little girl was covered with sores. She was standing in a tub and both hurting and angry. She kept hitting the sister, splashing the water at her and screaming and screaming. It all seemed rather useless to try to clean the child. Just then, Mother Theresa entered. She had heard the commotion. “Now we’ll see how holy the boss really is,” Fr. Fullenbach says he thought.
Mother Theresa walked over to where the child was and dismissed the young sister. The child looked at her and screamed and then soaked Mother Theresa with the bath water. Mother Theresa just stopped and looked at the child. She waited a little bit and then slowly walked closer and closer to the child. Then she reached out her arms and hugged the little girl. The child cried and cried. Mother Theresa kept holding her. After a long time, the child stopped crying. Mother Theresa then began to wash the little girl, cleaning her sores the whole time singing to her.
What is the lesson of this story? Well, Mother Theresa had authority, and humility, and the power of Jesus Christ. She continually encountered Christ within others and within herself.
The Life of Christ within us is a power that can transform the world. It is a power that can transform each of us. Mother Theresa and you and I experience this power when we act for the sole purpose of serving the Lord’s people.
Besides this attitude and spirit of service, we must be very conscious that we are a Eucharistic people. What does that really mean? We celebrate Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament. We receive communion. We adore his Presence in our tabernacles. But that is just one part of the Eucharistic dimension of our lives. To be a Eucharistic people, our celebration of the Eucharist must encompass washing the feet of the Lord’s people.
We are a people that embrace stewardship. Stewardship means the best use of the talents the Lord has give us for his people. Not all of us can care for the hurting like Mother Theresa. Fr. Fullenbach saw his limitations that first day. But he has many other great gifts to give.
All of us have different gifts. We have a responsibility to develop our gifts in service to the Lord. What can I do best? What do you do best? Some people are capable of caring for the poor with mercy, compassion and justice. Others can do that for the sick. Some are capable of teaching. We all have many talents. They are given to us to serve others. We are called to develop these talents. That is how we give back to the Lord a little of what he has given to us. That is stewardship.
The Lord understands our failures, our limitations, our fears, the times that we lack confidence in ourselves to do His work. He sees this, but He also sees so much more. He sees our talent. He sees our love. He sees our determination to seek Him out in others and serve His Presence. None of us has the right to feel that we are not good enough to bring Christ to others.
We are good enough to be Christians. We are good enough to be a Eucharistic People, serving his Presence in others. We are good enough to be stewards of His Grace. He makes us good enough.
My brother, my sister, it is not the Presider’s chair, the Bishop’s cathedra, the judge’s bench or the big chair in the Oval Office that confers true authority. True authority, true power comes from God. And that power, that authority has been given to us by the great high priest, Jesus Christ, who has called us to be a Eucharistic people and to spend our time, our talents, our money, our whole being in service of others ■
 Sunday 18th October, 2009, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Isaiah 53:10-11. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you. Ps 32(33):4-5, 18-20, 22. Hebrews 4:14-16. Mark 10:35-45. [St Luke].
 Fr. John Fullenbach, a devout Catholic, teaches theology at the Gregorian in Rome, has taught in the Philippines and lectures internationally.