A reflection by Fr. Justin Mathews, Executive Director, on the power of love in action.
“No amount of thought will ever result in any greater formulation than the three words, ‘Love one another,’ so long as it is love to the end and without exceptions.”
This is a quote from one of my heroes. Mother Maria of Paris was an Orthodox Christian nun who cared for the poor and who was martyred in Ravensbruck concentration camp in 1945. Her life and writings have taught me so much about love.
Loving people is really hard work - especially people whose life or values are different than ours. “Love” is a strained word - stretched beyond strength, said so freely that “love for one another” can sound more like pithy rhetoric than a solution. And yet, I believe only love truly carries us, heals us, redeems us in the end. Who hasn’t longed for a single kind word on a dark day? Whose heart hasn’t softened when someone walked beyond what’s polite to the stretch of rough road that lies between today’s promise and tomorrow’s provision? In a race where hope and despair are neck and neck, love for one another makes all the difference. Love never fails.
Our work at Reconciliation Services becomes that love for those we serve -- enough love to listen to all; enough love to co-labor to find a solution; enough love for those whose journey to healing is long and unsure. Love to the end and without exceptions.
For some, love and healing begins with short-term urgent needs: providing ID and document assistance, assistance paying rent or utility bills, paying for a prescription, or offering a hot nutritious meal. These interactions may be short but the love we share in these vulnerable moments often leads to trust and deeper sharing. For these guests we can build transformational relationships through our REVEAL trauma and depression therapy program, our community volunteers at Thelma’s Kitchen, and our Foster Grandparents Program.
I want to tell you about two sisters who reveal the power of this love in action. Sonya and Tykeiaa both came to RS in need of a little help. When Sonya relocated to Kansas City, she was struggling to find a way to pay for the many medications she needed. Your gifts enabled us to help her buy those medications and put her resources towards finding employment and settling into a new home. She is now employed full-time.
Tykeiaa walked further with our team. Her ID was stolen while staying at an area shelter. When she came to RS, one of our team was there to really listen to her story and understand how we could best support her. First, we helped her get her ID, prescription glasses, and needed medications. Then we were able to help her take meaningful steps towards healing through our trauma and depression therapy program.
There are hundreds in our community, just like Sonya and Tykeiaa, whose lives are being transformed by radical love. As I reflect back on our work today and the life of Mother Maria, I am continually strengthened by her example of both loving leadership and courageous service against all odds. She stands among many others who inspire our work here at Reconciliation Services: Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Gandhi, to name a few. Each worked in his or her own context as a prominent and active supporter of equality. Each labored to restore the dignity of the human person. Today, we feel that our work on Troost Avenue is a continuation of their legacy.
Thank you for your support, which is enabling us to love… to the end and without exception.
To read more about the amazing life of Mother Maria, see this beautiful article by Jim Forest on the Saint of the Open Door.