“People…who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.” Strains of Barbara Streisand hauntingly underscore the message in Chapter 3 of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. Here Francis counsels us that the authentic mystery of human existence can only be experienced by reaching out to others. No one of us need stand alone for we cannot live, develop, and find fulfilment unless we give of ourselves to others. “Life exists where there is human bonding… [and] life is stronger than death when it is built on true relationships and bonds of fidelity.”
When push comes to shove, connecting to others is not always easy. My relationships must take into account that others do not live for “me” alone, nor do I live only for “them.” Zoomers realize that a delicate balance exists which often challenges our best attempts to establish a true sense of sisterhood or brotherhood. Authentic relationships can only take root in hearts open to growth. Thus, we must step outside ourselves to embrace others, especially those for whom we feel no particular attraction.
When Pope Francis cited hospitality as the gift we bring to any encounter outside our own circle, Zoomers sat up and took notice. Hospitality, after all, is the hallmark of the Sisters of Saint Joseph! This week, as we considered this, we recognized that the act of welcoming extends far beyond a cup of coffee or an occasional meal. It involves stepping beyond ourselves to meet the nitty gritty of our lives together in Community. It steps away from our private worlds to meet the dear neighbor on their own turf. No easy tasks here!
As today’s globalization brings us face to face with the need to enlarge our horizons, it impels us toward universal communion with religions, races, and nationalities with which we may not be familiar. It urges us to confront racism, poverty, sexism and crime; to embrace the forgotten, the elderly, and those dealing with disabilities. Though Zoomers may not be able to be on the front lines of these needs directly, they most certainly can squeeze through the back door with carloads of prayer and advocacy. The Sisters of Saint Joseph have always been noted for their ability to make things happen for the good of the world.