Part of the problem in coming to help those among the margins is that many folks, like myself, venture out from relative abundance and good social standing. So when we “serve” or “minister” in these places (like in the conos of Lima, Peru or among the homeless in Chico, California), we tend to take with us a mistakenly high view of what we can give. The real gift we have to offer is not the money we can share (and we do need to share our possessions!) or the wisdom we can impart (what would happen if we took time to listen instead?). No, our greatest gift is found in losing ourselves (see Matthew 10:39).
A friend wrote about this theme in a reflection called, “Nobodies”:
I had thought of “losing my life” mostly in the sense of letting go of possessions and advantages and ambitions. But now I began to think that a lot of a “life” is its place in society, a good reputation, the acceptance and cooperation of the people around us who have what we need. Being a somebody among those who are somebodies in our social circle. To lose this means not only losing people’s help and material support, but also being rejected, ignored, unneeded, losing value in the eyes of the people that seem to make up our whole world. It seems to make us valueless as persons. Nobodies.
…So when we are set free [from the approval and opinion of those around us]―usually through the experience of becoming a nobody, losing our place in society so we can find our life in God―we are made more able to relate to people as they are. Simply as human beings like ourselves, loved by God.
In that sense, I’m happy to share a video presentation I put together about our recent trip to Peru: “Blessed are you who are poor”. May we all find true freedom in God’s love.