Once a week during my years as a student at Saint Louis University, a group of us would prepare a simple meal, pile into vans, and head out to the streets of downtown St. Louis to visit our friends living on the streets.
When I first started going out with the Labre Homeless Ministry group, I felt good about the fact that I was living the commissioning that Jesus issues to “go and make disciples of all nations.” I hoped that bringing people a meal would somehow invite them deeper into the love of Christ.
However, my understanding of the commissioning was too small. I thought about others out there who needed what I had to give but did not really think about what they had to share with me. I thought of the transaction instead of the relationship.Those nights on the streets, I was incredibly struck by the fact that these people invited us into their homes week after week. It just so happened that their homes did not have four walls and a roof like mine did. Though we shared meals together, that was only the beginning of sharing our hearts, our stories, our laughter. As I got to know Jeff and his love for reading, Spider and his struggles with diabetes, Jamie and her sweet laughter, Scott and his honest poetry, I saw that these people were, in fact, living Christ’s commissioning as well. As children of God, they shared themselves with me and invited me deeper into the love in the heart of Christ. It wasn’t just that I had something to give them, but they too had something to give me—the love that Jesus time and time again commands us to spread.
Because we are all children of God by the Spirit of adoption, we are all called to carry the grace of God’s love out into the world. That means that we also must be open to receiving that grace from others, and in doing so, see God in them. I entered into those nights with Labre expecting the commissioning of Jesus to be transactional, that I would bring something to others in need. However, the friends I got to know on the streets of St. Louis taught me that we are all sent out not for transaction but for relationship.
We are each made in the image of the Trinity, the image of true self-giving relationship. As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity, may we strive to live Jesus’ call to go out and encounter one another in genuine relationship.
Jackie Bova is a graduate of Saint Louis University, a former campus minister, and a fan of Cleveland sports. She is passionate about ending stigmas surrounding homelessness and disability. Jackie is currently seeking God in all things, including triathlons, business classes, and ice cream.