I can remember as a child visiting church one afternoon with my mom and brother when I was probably about six or seven years old. It was during the week; maybe we were dropping something off or my mom wanted to go in for a quick prayer. The air was cool inside the sanctuary, the sunlight streaming through the stain glass catching Jesus’ face as he hung on the cross. Silence was the only sound. I was not used to being in church without the bustle of Sunday mass but that didn’t stop me from shouting out cheerfully as we walked out, “Good-bye God!” To which God, a.k.a. my mother in her best baritone boomed, “Good-bye Amy!”
Wow, I couldn’t believe it, God had spoken my name! I was giddy with excitement, jumping around the parking lot, “Did you hear that?! Did you hear God say my name?!” As we get older and our ears become deafened to the sweet sound of God’s voice, we forget that God indeed speaks our name, and in fact we are written on the palms of His hands. (Isaiah 49:16)
God invites us to be co-creators of the Kingdom (1Cor3:9). What does that mean, practically? In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells us blessed are the peacemakers, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, and persecuted. Our world today is over-flowing with opportunities to be peacemakers, justice-seekers, and reconcilers.
In his 2013 World Day of Peace message, Pope Benedict XVI lifts up the Beatitudes as a tangible path to building the Kingdom when he says, “Peace is not a dream or something utopian; it is possible. Our gaze needs to go deeper, beneath superficial appearances and phenomena, to discern a positive reality which exists in human hearts, since every man and woman has been created in the image of God and is called to grow and contribute to the building of a new world.”
From migrants living in the shadows, to Creation under threat from over-consumption, to wars around the globe, God calls us by name to move beyond our comfort zone and into relationship with the suffering of the human and natural world. These encounters become the Way of the Cross. We become Simon who helps Jesus carry his cross. We become Veronica who wipes Jesus’ face. We become the women and children of Jerusalem who offer their support. We become Mary and John and Mary Magdalene at the foot of the Cross.