A few months ago, way back in February actually, I made plans to come home and booked my April flight for a week-long vacation. I was very excited and looking forward to the visit. One of my friends was becoming a priest and another was getting married! Little did I know then, that our MissionCorps retreat was to be held the day after I returned – this would mean that I would be out of the house for about 12 days in a row. Twelve days is a huge amount of time to be out of the house. To be quite honest though, I knew it would be refreshing and I was looking forward to it all! Little did I know though, how much I would truly miss the craziness I call life at The Michael House.
The craziness I joke about was something that took me a long time to adjust to, the MissionCorps can joke about it now, but it was something we all struggled with at the beginning. For me, the realization of it all came staring me in the eyes on a day earlier in the year.
I was sitting in the living room, holding one of our little babies, while one mom was in the kitchen baking a chicken, and another mom was feeding her baby in the chair across from me. It was the most picturesque I had ever seen our house. It was quiet and calm and not a single problem was obvious. Everyone was in harmony with one another and I was in awe as I realized this. I remember secretly wishing that a volunteer or donor would just show up at our front door at that moment so that I could show off our “picture perfect” afternoon. I knew that it would never be this calm or quaint again.
Later that day, I was able to attend mass and the gospel reading was complete Divine Providence. The reading was about Jesus in the marketplace being with all sorts of people. As the priest gave his homily, he began talking more about the marketplace, and what the context meant in the Bible. All of a sudden, it hit me, I was working in the marketplace of our own time and culture. It was a crazy revelation. It somehow made the image of Jesus’s marketplace so much clearer though. It’s a jungle in that marketplace, where people are lost and confused, where the upper class have cast them aside. Physically, the priest explained, it was filthy. A place where waste was tossed and the rich discarded without a thought. The people here have sins that are numerous, yet they are the company who Jesus, Our Savior, has decided to keep. He heals them in the marketplace and teaches them as well, in that filthy place where society has stopped caring.
I realized that I am fortunate enough to also live in that marketplace and share my life with those whom Jesus kept company with as well. I thought back to earlier in the day, when I wanted to show off my charming little family. The moment in time, was not the usual, but I wanted to show it off to people. “Look how nice they will think our home is after they see this,” I thought to myself. Now I stood in the awe of realization – that was not why I chose to live in the center of the marketplace. I live here because I have been blessed with greatest gift of God’s own personal company and in the bedroom next door for heaven’s sake! Not because it’s quiet and quaint, but because it’s hard. It can be emotionally and physically draining in the best way possible. I have the opportunity to cry and struggle with them, laugh and eat with them, in the filth that society can bring on. I think in some way, we are all tempted to disguise our lives and attempt to appear as if they have no problems whatsoever. It would be much easier that way, if no one could see our flaws and issues. It would appear as if outside the marketplace, inside the walls of the city, those people had it easier as well.
While away on vacation, I had a great time. I witnessed beautiful things and felt a great sense of peace being with loved ones. I was able to pray for my marketplace home and share great stories with friends. It made me realize though, that I have been given the greatest gift in being able to live in the outcast society, that in Jesus’ time would have been considered the marketplace, and I am truly grateful for it. It might appear to be an easier route, staying at home, inside my city walls, but then I would be missing out on the greatest gift of all, walking side by side with Jesus’s favored company.
By Clare Shear, a MissionCorps member