Commit yourself to one campaign, the goal of which is to make everyone happy. Sacrifice yourself continually, with Jesus, so as to bring peace to hearts and souls, and development and prosperity to all peoples. This will be your spirituality, discrete and concrete at the same time. (Cardinal Van Thuan, Five Loaves and Two Fish)

Reflection

The willingness to serve is a sure and certain way to cultivate hope in ones heart. In the action of serving another person a fundamental inner shift occurs. The shift is this: we stop thinking about ourselves, even if just for a few moments. When service occurs in truth and charity the focus turns from “I” to the “other”. For a little bit of time we forget ourselves, we set ourselves aside, in favor of the other person.

And here is the paradoxical rub – its when we forget ourselves in service that we gain our true selves. To borrow from Thomas Merton’s analogy; it is when we sacrifice ourselves for the other with Jesus that the false self fades in light of the approach of the true self . Hope will not keep company with illusion; only as the false self lessens and the true self is gained will hope be cultivated in ones heart.

This is the spirituality of the washing of the feet; it is both discrete and concrete in the same moment and also thoroughly sublime.