Around five years ago, I led a group of students on a pilgrimage to Paris and Rome. While in Rome, we had lunch with the Daughters of Charity, a religious community of women who, as one of their website writes, “devote their lives to serving the poorest and most abandoned individuals in today’s society.”
Fr. Greg Gay, a Vincentian priest who at the time served as the Superior General of their international community, introduced me to one of the Daughters who was providing the most delicious food and wonderful company for our students.
Fr. Gay, speaking in Italian, shared my name followed by some words that I could not understand. I later asked what he said. He shared that he couldn’t properly translate my position as a Campus Minister from English to Italian, so he “simply” said, “He knows God.”
This experience has been the source of many moments of prayer, hours of writing, and deep reflection over the years. As I reflected this morning, this experience once again came to mind.
Similar reflections soon followed:
- Do I really know God? Is this even close to true?
- How misdirected this is, as the Daughter and Fr. Gay have dedicated their lives to serving the poor. They know God!
- How affirming this was, if it is true or not. I certainly try to reflect God’s love on others, especially those most in need which may take different forms at different times.
I am no saint, but I sure try to be. The saints know God, as best as they can. Now, trusting they are with God, they experience the fullness of that love that they once only caught glimpses of, a love that at the same time they shined on others.
As I reflect on knowing God, I come to the conclusion that the answer is both yes and no.
Yes, I know God, at least aspects of our Source. I see it every day, in the smallest of ways, like the budding of a spring flower or in the smile on my daughter’s shining face.
I also know that there is so much that I do not know, when it comes to life and to God. Fr. Gay would have been more accurate in saying, “he tries to know God.” Or, to paraphrase Blessed Frederic Ozanam, “in his life, he wants to become better and do a little good.”
I can only pray that my life reflects God’s light and love. This is the success in life that I strive for as I simply try to be who God imagined when I was created.
To know God is perhaps the greatest of compliments. It accurately capture our mission here on this journey. If we can do this, or at least try to, all that will flow from us is good. It is holy as it is of God.
As we reflect on this new day, may we consider these questions:
- How might we better come to know God?
- How might God be calling you to know and to love God, both in your mirror and in your neighbor?
- What God-given talents and gifts can you better utilize to “do a little good?”