DAY TWO: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR
Reflection by Sister Joyce Cox, BVM (Former Director of Ecumenical/Interreligious Dialogue, Office of Mission, Archdiocese of Seattle)
Today we reflect on the biblical images of human friendship and love as models for God‘s love for every human being. Understanding ourselves as beloved friends of God has consequences for relationships within the community of Jesus. Within the Church, all barriers of exclusion are inconsistent within a community in which all are equally the beloved friends of Jesus.
One can easily be surprised in searching for the Roman Catholic Church of Christ Our Hope. This new parish in downtown Seattle is just five years old. Housed in the Josephinum building on the corner of Stewart and Second Avenue, it seems hidden in this eighteen story structure. However, one only has to walk in front of this building or simply pass through the entrance to become aware there is something more, something else here. Perhaps it is the rough exterior of the bearded stranger who greets you with a tangle of words and phrases outside of a familiar usual welcome or greeting. Perhaps it is the desk clerk himself seated behind the desk top staring into a computer in front of him. Yet, his gaze tells you of a consequence of living outside the usual confines of a city neighborhood. Perhaps it is the elderly woman with her little, ragged looking poodle. There is something more here and you know it at nine o’clock this Sunday morning.
The folks who come here for Sunday worship are companions from the wealth of high rise condos mixing with the stumbling young woman who appears frightened and bewildered. What lures the woman from the street, the hedge-fund leader from the high rise and the blind and bald African American to this setting so unlike a neighborhood church with steeple or cross? And then there is the priest attired in his robe and stole standing out there in front greeting everyone, literally everyone coming up and down Second Avenue. He has a greeting and a welcome no matter what the challenge and yet, he does not even coax or call anyone to come into his unassuming church. He simply is walking with Jesus as a friend and greeting everyone he meets as a friend of Jesus as well.
Inside the actual church body, once a dining room, the lightness of the morning cheer is captivating. These, too, are friends of Jesus sharing their early morning exchange with a hug, a laugh or a word of concern and compassion. It is “catching.” There is no better hug for a life-long friend than for the dear, little lady who does not speak the language of the folks. There is no better welcome for the choir leader than the sad and quite disheveled young man… These are all friends of Jesus. There is the widow who just lost her young husband. There is the young adult who has just been baptized after his long year of questioning and challenging to the pious and the faithful. There is the older couple whose daughter has been ill and bedridden for years with a rare disease and the lonely teenager who searches for a familiar friend, and is greeted by the Christ, so present as friend and lover and the newly married couple holding hands in that side pew realizing only too well that they are walking with and in Jesus right now and right here.