“Word.” the young person said. Early on in my work here in the neighborhood young people taught me an important understanding about “word.” They explained that when you say “word” it means you are committed and you will not go against your word. To not remain “true” to your word is considered a severe violation of trust and friendship. The sense of trust is probably the most fundamental need of any young person growing up in our neighborhood.
Part of the reason trust is so fundamental is because it is an expression of love. Trust can be broken in our neighborhood based on very difficult circumstances. Growing up in a home, a child looks for acceptance and understanding. In fact, they trust in the care of the adult. An adult breaks the trust of the child the moment the child is abused physically, or with words. Given the stress of the low income environment of many homes, abusive language and hitting can be common, so you might imagine children look for the “word” of those around them to care about them.
The sense of trust can also be broken when commitments are not respected. In our neighborhood, commitments to children include teaching, facilitating, tutoring, mentoring and guiding children. Commitments to feed and nurture, provide housing and education… all are part of the fundamental rights of the child. Anytime an adult breaks a commitment with a child, whether they have a good excuse or not, the child experiences a loss. Trust must be reestablished, even for the least of offenses.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ – in light of the blood sacrifices of Moses and the readings of today, we can understand better that God is committed to us by means of a covenant found in Jesus. He demonstrates for us the commitment required – to give of our very selves for the others. And he provides us with a reminder of the bread and the cup that he is with us always as we live in his Spirit. Jesus gives us his word.
Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF