“THE INVITATION TO YES”
Zahrah Ektefaei Wattier &
Phil Gutierrez Coordinators, Xavier Young Adults
In this final Sunday of May, we conclude the Church’s celebration of Mary during this month – a very special time. Mary is not just Jesus’ mother, as we know, but is also the first evangelizer and the first disciple. Mary accompanied Christ’s entire earthly mission of love, and is an example of how to follow Christ in our daily lives. At St. Francis Xavier, our Eucharist, devotional prayers, Mary Chapel, and recently-restored sanctuary artwork remind us of this.
For the two of us, however, Mary’s most memorable act was at the Wedding Feast at Cana.
We remember the celebration and Christ turning water into wine, but it was Mary’s affirmative yes when she instructs “
Do whatever He tells you
,” that continues to inspire us today. Mary had an amazing ability to surrender to God’s will in a way that many of us strive to achieve.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his apostles to go out and “
make disciples of all nations
,” reminding us that we should go where we are called, but we are not alone; Christ is with us always. So, what does that mean to us today? And how might we connect Jesus’ command with Mary’s life-changing and life-giving choice to say yes? Often young people are seen serving in the parish, encouraged by sentiments such as, “That’s so sweet” or “We’re so happy to have a young person with us today!” It’s true: seeing young people serve in the parish is a wonderful thing, energizing and life-giving to the parish community. But why aren’t more young people serving? In fact, why aren’t more PEOPLE serving?
Too often the word “later” is a part of our plans. I will donate “later,” I will volunteer “later,” I will join that ministry “later.” It’s very comfortable to feel that we are anonymous in the parish pews showing up on a Sunday and leaving as soon as the final hymn is over – that is, until eventually
. Why wait for later when we are being called to serve today? No matter your age, from 3 to 103, we have all been given gifts to share with others.
Xavier Young Adults ministry serves parishioners who are 18-35. Our roster often changes, marked by this period of life transitions and growth. People get new jobs; people move away; people move back; people go back to school; and all of those other things that happen when you are making your mark in this world. While Young Adults ministry always needs help to make our programming happen, we are not the only ministry who needs your “yes.”
A parishioner-driven parish such as St. Francis Xavier depends on all Catholics, and our community cannot thrive if we wait for someone else to minister to us rather than ministering with each other. Since its founding, our Church has been the work of the People of God; with your help and full participation, Xavier will continue to thrive for generations to come.
As the two of us conclude our leadership of Xavier Young Adults, we reflect with gratitude on how God is at work in the young people we have encountered the past three years in our ministry’s spiritual, service, and social activities, and elsewhere in Xavier parish life. Meeting young Catholics where they are and fostering community, deeper spirituality, and long-term engagement, our activities ask how disciples can contribute to the Catholic Church of today, at a Jesuit parish, in New York City.
Sometimes we are told fairly directly in Scripture – “Do whatever [Jesus] tells you,” as we heard at the Cana wedding feast. But more often, as St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches, the invitation to respond to God’s love can be found in more subtle ways that beckon the time, gifts, experiences, and talents that only you can provide – not later, but now.
In Mary, we have an example of a young adult whose active yes changed the trajectory of her own life, and ours. What will your answer be?