“We have observed that, in society and the world in which we live, selfishness has increased more than love for others, and that men of good will must work, each with his own strengths and expertise, to ensure that love for others increases until it is equal and possibly exceeds love for oneself.”

Pope Francis

Despite my TSA-PreCheck status, I was lumped with all other travelers at a smaller regional airport. There was only one lane open and folks were increasingly antsy as they fidgeted with their masks. Two or three people ahead of me in line was a man presumably from Ghana given the flags on his coat. He had two large bags and a beautiful little two-year-old with wide eyes and a wiggly body. As he placed his bags on the conveyor belt, the TSA agent was trying to help him understand he needed to remove his electronics and his toiletries. Once he understood, he quickly placed the little girl down and began frantically pulling things out to put in the bins. Within seconds, the little girl was darting for all of the frontiers she wanted to explore, weaving in and out of people, exploring under the conveyer belt, coming to the toes of strangers and looking up at the towering figures. The father didn’t seem to notice and strangely neither did anyone else in line, or at least they were pretending not to notice. I stretched out of line as the little girl passed me and respecting the fact that I was a stranger, during a pandemic, I tried to guide her by the hand in the direction of her dad. Without even pausing, she boomeranged back to her exploration. Fearing she would actually leave the security area, I picked her up and transported her right behind her dad who was still searching for something. Away she went again almost knocking over a pole. A gruff man behind me commented to the man, "Yo, this ain’t the village. Watch your kid." I finally stepped out of line and held my little friend in my arms until her dad realized his bags were through, but his daughter wasn’t. The jerky man behind me asked if I was going to move my bags forward as I returned to the line. My mouth smiled but my eyes said "I hope you get a full body search."

As I sat down at my gate trying to recover from my security experience, I couldn’t shake the callousness of the man behind me. "Why isn’t it the village?" I thought. Where are we going in such a hurry? What is so important on the other end of our journey that we can't make sure a rambunctious toddler finds her way home? The worst part about it was I knew there were more than a few times in my own life where I felt that impatient or had some pointed parenting advice, even if I didn’t say it out loud. Who do I consider to be my responsibility? How big is my village? If we look to Jesus on the cross as our model, I’m not sure we find a narrow definition of who is deserving of our support. As we begin this week, let’s open our minds and hearts to those who might need to be picked up by us and brought to the Father.

by Daniel Cellucci

September 13, 2021

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