I was sitting on the beach with the bright blue waters of the Caribbean to my right, and the dark, mysterious mountains of Central America to my left. I remember sifting soft sand through my fingertips as I sat and took a deep breath in, lost in contemplation for a moment.
I was on a mission trip in Honduras with my alma mater, returning as a guide and translator, and my team consisted of three young adults and a T.O.R. priest. Our one goal was to bring souls to Jesus. We had a small first aid kit, a Mass kit, a couple filters for water, and hearts burning to spread the Good News wherever it would take us.
In my passion, I was explaining to my team what we would encounter hiking into the jungles both of the mountainside, and the people’s hearts. I made the bold statement that “even if we bring just ONE soul to Jesus, even if we DIE doing it, it will all be worth it!” And I meant it.
The priest on our team was a little startled at my boldness. “You mean, we could DIE up there?!” I think he wasn’t quite sure what he signed up for – or maybe not quite sure of my intensity, but I could tell death wasn’t on the forefront of his mind for this trip. (In his defense, the university had done this trip countless times, I’d done it several myself, and the country is largely Catholic. My enthusiasm was a bit extreme, but I was excited and ready to go anywhere the Holy Spirit lead us, no matter the cost.)
The mission was a success. We were able to celebrate several Masses in villages that typically only see a priest once a year if they are lucky. (One area our group had encountered in years past hadn’t had Mass in the village for 40 years!) Many ill and elderly people were given Anointing of the Sick, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation was offered as often as possible.
That mission has lived in my heart through the years because it taught me an invaluable lesson in my vocation. No matter the cost, one soul is worth it all.
As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. -Matthew 25:40
I am tempted to forget this so often though. When I act like my children are getting in the way of my social life. When I’m impatient with their
slow observant demeanor. When I give my husband the cold shoulder to chat online with friends. When I allow the little hurts of every day life to steal the smile from my face. Constant temptation to forget the souls in front of me.
I think the evil one plays a big trick on us when we act like souls outside the home, or a larger number of souls is more important than the very ones God has placed right in front of our eyes for us to love.
The roots go back to the Garden of Eden and the first fall. Believing what God has shown me as the means of my happiness and holiness must not be quite enough and perhaps I could do better.
And so I challenge myself with this question: is one soul worth it? When I was on mission the answer was a resounding yes. I was ready to die for the hidden souls in the jungles of Honduras. I was willing to risk it all if I could bring Jesus to just one soul. Because that is the example Christ gave. If He had to do it all over again on the Cross for YOU ONLY. He would. A million times over He would.
What about parenthood? Am I willing to risk everything to bring my children and spouse to Heaven? Am I willing to give up human prestige to be available to my family? Am I willing to live a hidden life (even if only for a season) as the children are young and in great need of my time and attention? Am I willing to let go of my selfishness and be a light for my family? Is everything I have given up for this vocation (careers, cars, money, travel, friends, family, perfect fitting clothes, free time….) worth it if just one soul could know Jesus because of me? Am I ready to follow the example of Our Lady and go wherever the will of God takes me in this vocation?
I pray every day I will always answer with a resounding yes as passionately and courageously as I did sitting in the sand years ago in Honduras.
It is part of your vocation to shout the Gospel from the rooftops, not by your words, but by your life. -Bl. Charles de Foucauld
Lord, give me the grace.