Thursday, August 14, 2014

Six Words That Can Change a Life

About 17 or 18 years ago when I was a freshman at George Mason University, I wasn't quite yet convinced about my Catholic faith. I would go to mass at the Catholic campus ministry, but I felt that something was missing. 

Despite my regular attendance, it didn't seem like anybody noticed me. One particular Sunday evening when I went to mass, I had this heaviness on my heart. I thought, "Why do I even come here? No one seems to care whether I show up or not." 

After mass, God stepped in. A senior, the student campus minister that year by the name of Melissa, took a moment to smile at me. She then said to me five words that changed my life (or four words if you count contractions as just one word). It was nothing profound. In fact, it's the mere simplicity of what she said that makes it so memorable to this day.

"What was it that she said?" you may ask. She simply said, "I'm glad you came."

It's taken me the 17 or 18 years to realize how important those words were at that time in my life. You see, I wasn't a convinced Catholic at the time. I was questioning why I was coming to mass. I didn't see anybody caring that I was around. And one person showed that they cared. That one simple act, those five simple words were an answer to my heaviness. I left feeling much lighter and feeling as though I belonged.

Had it not been for those five simple words, I might not have continued to attend mass and eventually discover the depths of my Catholic faith. I might have never heard God calling me into relationship with him and to the religious life and to the priesthood.

I'm not sure whether Melissa knew that I was struggling that evening. Perhaps something told her that I needed a word of kindness. But with all of the talk today about people struggling with depression and the tragic news about Robin Williams, it may help us to remember how a simple word here or there can change someone's life for the better.

So, if we happen to see someone struggling, perhaps we can say six simple words to let them know that we care. Those six words are simply, "I'm glad you're here."

Reflection on today's gospel 8/14/14

Hatred and unforgiveness often resurface if we don't take the wounded heart to the one who can restore it most completely, the one who loves us so unconditionally, God.