Danny Jasek, Senior Anchor Intern
Over Christmas break, I was fortunate enough to travel to the Denver, Colorado area to spend time over the holidays with my dad’s side of the family. My immediate family, my grandparents, and my aunt’s family all rented a house together up in the mountains. This house had everything – a panoramic view of the Rockies without another house in sight, rustic wood-burning stoves, a huge deck with a hot tub, and so much more. During our week there, we visited with a few extended family members, hiked, and even snowshoed.
What was my favorite part of this trip? Skiing for the very first time! We spent three days on gorgeous slopes. While there was definitely a steep learning curve for me, I fell in love with the sport halfway through the second day. It was exhilarating to be able to control myself while hurtling across the snow at twelve-thousand feet. This family trip quickly became one of my favorite vacations ever. Everything seemed perfect. At the same time, I knew this trip was not cheap and that it was a special gift.
A few days into the trip, something significant happened during prayer. Now, I don’t usually receive any clear guiding words from God, but this time I think I did. While I was praying and reflecting on the many blessings I had received over the past few days, the words “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” suddenly came to mind. I truly felt like the Lord whispered this verse from Matthew 10 into my ear because I had done nothing to prompt it, and I felt a sense of great peace after hearing these words. I thanked God for revealing Himself to me. At the same time, these words posed a great challenge. Their logic made perfect sense. I was in the midst of receiving so much, and God was encouraging me to learn from this and increase my own generosity.
Self-giving love, agape in Greek, is something so central to the Christian life. In some ways, the role we play is quite simple. We are called to step out of ourselves and our self-centeredness and move towards God and others. In short, we are called to agape – “willing the good of the other”. But this stepping out of ourselves is also a very challenging process. It is simply not in our fallen nature to be so invested in the well-being of others. Radical love for our neighbor makes no sense evolutionarily. Only through God’s grace can we do this.
Agape is something I constantly need to improve upon. I often get caught up in my own desires and fold in on myself. The first thought in my head when I wake up in the morning is usually something like “What do I have to do today?”, and if I am not careful, I default into a mode of existence that involves checking off boxes throughout my day without much of a care for a friend struggling beside me.
So, how was I going to respond to this call from God? Thankfully, the other spiritually striking thing that I experienced over break fit the first one like a puzzle piece. On the Solemnity of the Holy Family, during Mass, the deacon preached to us of the words of Mother Teresa:
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
These words struck me like a bolt of holy lightning. I knew at once that they were significant.
I think we all have a desire to change the world in some positive way. However, most of us simply won’t be able to do this on a grand scale. But imagine what the world would be like if all families loved each other just a little more perfectly? The chain reaction effect would be amazing. When we are loved more deeply, we become capable of sharing that love with others. I think the same concept of “family” applies to close friends as well.
After that homily, my mission for the remainder of my vacation seemed pretty clear, and I dedicated myself to attempting to love my family more deeply and truly. I tried to share kind words, be obedient to my parents, and put the wishes of others before my own. And while I certainly didn’t do this perfectly (just ask my family), I was filled with a certainty that this simple task was what God wanted of me at that time, and I found a sense of peace in attempting to fulfill it.
I think more often than not, God wants us to love Him in little ways, especially by the way we treat others. Our seemingly insignificant interactions can have a profound effect. It is through the ordinary moments of life that we learn agape. Ultimately, the world will be changed through the summation of small loving actions. What part will you play?