Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

Carrying Jesus

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As the new Respect Life Program Director for Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, joining the agency about five months ago, I have already encountered many “firsts” in my new role, and I look forward to many more to come! When I was asked to write something for the CCDOC Blog, I knew this would go on my list of another first. As I pondered and prayed about what to write, various topics came to mind. With the recent celebration of Mother’s Day, I knew I could write something about mothers—thanking and lifting up current mothers, comforting and consoling mothers who have lost a child, and teaching and inspiring mothers-to-be. Then I realized that Father’s Day is approaching soon, so I thought perhaps I could write something integrating mothers and fathers. Both are essential in the creation of life and in the Respect Life mission, and I had just recently been learning more about research indicating the need to focus more on the man’s role and responsibilities within society and how this impacts women and their choices regarding their children. I also considered writing about individuals with special needs, as these individuals are near and dear to my heart. Well, the Lord took all of my thoughts and gave me my answer…

I recently attended a First Communion Mass because one of my students with special needs was receiving and celebrating his First Eucharist. He had been talking about this day all school year, and I was blessed to be able to share in this special day with him. All Masses are joyous celebrations and this one was no different. Life was abundant wherever I looked! There were babies and young children, and families of all ages had come from all over for this celebration. They were all gathered together to celebrate the lives of their children, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the new Life their children were about to receive in such a miraculous, incredible way. Suddenly I was able to put aside all my stresses and all my thoughts of the work I had to do, and I allowed myself to simply be. It was one of those moments when I was really ready for an inspirational homily. As I listened, the homilist was telling some stories, and although they were entertaining, I was not yet exactly sure where he was going with it. And then it came. The Holy Spirit gave me exactly what I was needing to hear, as He usually does when we are open and listening.

The priest was telling us about a time when Mother Teresa came to North Carolina to assist with setting up a convent and mission for some of her sisters. This priest was in charge of transporting the Eucharist to the new convent, along with the Bishop and Mother Teresa. As he prepared everything according to proper, reverent protocol, he was astonished when the Bishop told Mother Teresa that he thought she should bring Jesus to her sisters (typically, the Bishop would carry the Eucharist). At this moment, Mother Teresa got off of her knees and stood to carry Jesus; however, she did not carry the Eucharist in the way the priest or bishop would have, rather, she carried Him like a baby. The priest shared that, through this simple act, Mother Teresa showed who (not what) the Eucharist is. With love, gentleness, and humility, she loved Jesus and she carried Him to others, just as she did throughout her life. She knew that Christ was there, waiting to be loved, waiting to be received.

This encounter brought everything together for me. Not only were these precious children eager and waiting to receive Jesus in the special way of the Eucharist, but there He was, waiting to receive them as well. But they were not here alone—they were here with their parents who had made the choice to receive them and love them several years ago. Whether they had birthed them or adopted them, these parents chose life and were there, waiting to love and to receive who the Lord had created for them. These parents carried their children—they brought Jesus to their children and they brought their children to Jesus—and on this special day, in a very special way, their children would receive our Lord.

I am reminded of how Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” I am reminded that Jesus is there waiting to be loved and received and shared. I am reminded of how I am called to carry Jesus, not only in my heart, but also to my brothers and sisters. I pray that I am able to bring Him to others, especially in their times of need, as others, even the smallest and most vulnerable, have brought Him to me.

By Jennifer Ganser
Respect Life Program Director


Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte © 2014