It’s Pentecost today, and I want to tell a story–a totally true story– of a college student in my parish, who was received into the Catholic Church just 40 days ago at our Easter Vigil. I read a post by a fellow blogger just now on a similar theme, and after reading it was further inspired to tell everyone of the actions of this young woman.
I live in a very secular, very pagan, unchurched, liberal town, which grew up around a very large public university. The hostility to Catholicism, indeed, all of Christianity, is palpable, both on and off campus. Two young men have been regularly preaching out on the campus lawn this school year–preaching hellfire and damnation. They condemn and judge and tell passing students that they are going to hell. On one particular day last week, a group of students stopped to listen, argue with, and even heckle the two preachers. One of the students listening was the newly baptized Catholic woman from my parish. She listened, was disturbed at what she was hearing, and then felt strongly moved to do something. . . strange.
She was moved to leave and go to her dorm room and get a bucket of water. She told herself that that was ridiculous, but the urge persisted. She fought it further, telling herself that she can’t do that, but still she had the urge. And so she obeyed. She went to her dorm room and got a bucket of water, and lugged it back to the preachers.
Feeling rather foolish and afraid for a moment, she gathered up her courage and stepped forward. She went up to the preaching men and set her bucket of water down in front of them.
She asked them if she could wash their feet.
No, they said. That’s stupid. Our feet are clean. We don’t need our feet washed.
The crowd hushed and watched intently.
The young woman spoke up, telling them that they have it all wrong. She told them that Jesus didn’t come to judge and condemn, but to show mercy. He came to love and to serve. That Christianity was about humility, love and service, not about sending people to hell. And she asked again to wash their feet, to serve them this way.
I don’t know exactly what the pair of preachers said to this, but I do know that the watching students came forward to talk to the brave young woman with her container of water, and hear what she had to say about her faith and the teachings of the Church.
The Holy Spirit moved powerfully through her that day, and she did not turn away from the challenge.
I pray that I might have the courage to seize such opportunities, and that you might as well.