“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” –St. John the Baptist (John 1:29)
During the third full week of my summer at Nativity (June 20-24), I had the privilege to assist with “Catholic Kids Camp,” a weeklong event that drew in 107 kids, grades pre-K to 5, with older kids assisting the various groups. My responsibilities during the week included leading the large group in morning prayer, teaching about Gregorian chant, leading the different age groups in guided meditation and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and running around with the kids in the gym during recreation time. Needless to say, at the end of each morning, I was filled with joy and completely wiped out!
Last Friday I also had the opportunity to
preach at the closing Mass, which happened to fall on the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. I felt inspired to preach the homily as a “guest preacher,” that is, as St. John the Baptist himself, so that I could engage the kids, their parents, and the daily Mass crowd alike. As I explained how I, St. John, point to Jesus by the way I live my life, I encouraged the members of the congregation to point others to Jesus in everything that they do.
After Mass we had a time of singing, snacks, and wrap-up in the parish hall, so the kids could show their parents what they had been learning throughout the week. At the end of the official program, after I had made the rounds and greeted everyone, I went back upstairs in the empty and quiet Church to clean up some things that had been left from the Mass and to swing by the Adoration Chapel and tell Jesus “thank you” for all of the ways that he had provided for us during the week.
As I was passing through the pews, I saw one of the 1st grade girls from the camp with her mother, as if they were looking for something. I asked the mother, “Did she leave something during Mass?” To which she replied, “I’m not sure; honey, what are you looking for? What did you want to show me?” Just then the little girl walked over to the side chapel where we had prayed in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament earlier in the week, and I asked her, “Are you looking for the monstrance?” She quietly nodded her head up and down, and I told her that we usually keep Jesus in the Adoration Chapel just around the corner. I showed the little girl and her mom the way and whispered to her, “Tell Jesus goodbye before you leave,” as I dropped them off.
This encounter was the last gift of the week that Jesus had planned just for me! This little girl had pointed her own mother to Jesus, and I was there to witness and assist. Evangelization is really so easy; all we need to do is see others as God sees them and point them to Jesus. This is what St. John the Baptist did as the forerunner of Christ, and this is what we are called to do as we imitate his example. Show people the Lamb, and He will do the heavy lifting.
This article is published in the July 3, 2016 edition of the parish bulletin. Front page photo of Deacon Chad and campers by Therese Steinhoff Photography