ALVAREZ: Where do you see Jesus?
February 8, 2022
I always saw myself being a catechist when I grew older. It wasn’t until after Mass one day, during announcements, that they said there was a need for volunteers. I responded to the need, not knowing I would become a catechist early on.
In my first year, I assisted the catechist in their class. We then had a student throwing backpacks across the room and running off into the hallway. The good thing was that I was able to sprint in heels because I never lost sight of that one student who needed my help that day.
There are people in need of extra help everywhere around us. And I am not talking about the volunteers because we are all in need of volunteers but rather the pupils who often need an advocate to understand their needs better.
From that day, I realized that I saw Jesus in those diverse learners: who needed more attention, who challenged the catechist’s lesson plan, who needed patience and time, and who sought out understanding and flexibility.
God’s timing is always perfect. A couple of months ago, the Dicastery for Laity Family and Life instituted by Pope Francis’s Apostolic Authority and regulated by special statutes launched a campaign, #IamChurch in which persons with disabilities from around the world show their contribution to our Church.
All videos and articles are available in different languages on the Vatican News and the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life websites: www.vaticannews.va and www.laityfamilylife.va.
What better time for the compilations of sharing something good than now? During our struggles, during our re-opening phases, during our challenge in faith is when good news like these people come to light.
Yes, there is perfect timing; not our time but the Lord’s time.
In 1287, back when ultrasounds and ob-gyn appointments did not exist, Margaret of Castello was born near Perugia, Italy. She was born blind, with a curvature of the spine and a condition we now call dwarfism. Her parents, ashamed of the multiple disabilities, told everyone she had died at childbirth.
At 6 years old, Margaret was confined to a small room adjacent to a nearby chapel. Father Cappellano was allowed to visit her with daily meals. Her cell had a window that opened to the chapel so she could hear daily Mass.
Despite the injustice, Margaret developed a remarkably strong faith. Her parents ended up abandoning her when she was 15 and homeless, at which time she moved into a local convent.
Margaret became a third-order Dominican and resolved to spend her life serving the Lord. She expressed that in her neighbors’ suffering, she saw the image of the suffering Christ. Margaret regarded her disabilities to unite her pain with the pain of Christ endured on the cross.
She died when she was 33 years old and was declared a saint on April 24, 2021, by Pope Francis. Her feast day is April 13.
Margaret is a great example of persevering through challenges with the logic of divine love found in Jesus. So let’s resolve and ask ourselves, where do we see Jesus in our world today?
Melissa Alvarez is the assistant director for the Ministry With Persons with Disabilities with the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.