“He is close to us, always beside us, walking with us to share our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our struggles.”
Yesterday our family was blessed to participate in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s annual run/walk to conquer childhood cancer. Peter was one of a few children picked as an ambassador, and our family has spent the last month building up team "Peter Rocks" for a strong showing.
As our swarm of blue shirts descended on Center City Philadelphia, we noticed other packs of different colored shirts coming from every direction – all cheering for a different child walking with us or watching from heaven. As we walked with family and friends, I kept thinking the same thing that some of our team members commented to me – thousands of people, countless individual stories, all connected by the same difficult thread. And this was just one day in one city. As the shirt colors mixed and mingled, I found myself a part of the most heartbreaking and yet at the same time the most beautiful tapestry I had ever seen.
As we walked back to our car exhausted but grateful for such a beautiful morning, I thought about all the talk in our Church lately about being "synodal." At its core, I’m not so sure it’s about debating an issue or creating new structures. Synodality is about how we walk with each other and, more importantly, how the Lord walks with us all. It’s about sharing our living memory as a people. It’s about how the Holy Spirit continues to reveal to us who God is and how God loves us through our love of one another. It’s about our remembrance and rejoicing even in suffering.
In yesterday’s crowd, my family was known while among strangers. Our story was told in footsteps. For all gathered, the unity was obvious and grounded not in an idea, but in a person, in a relationship. As a disciple, am I grounded first in an idea or in a person? Do I recognize the importance of my relationships as I profess my beliefs? Can I hold the story of a stranger in the same way I can hold the story of a loved one because of our common identity in Christ?
We drove straight from the race to our parish for Mass and though we weren’t walking anymore, I gratefully felt the same Spirit still moving through a community gathered in a person, the Person. Prayers for all those with whom you will walk this week.
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