Today we welcome the incoming Jesuit Volunteers for the 2011-2012 service year. Individuals from places both near and far are traveling to Camp Adams in Molalla, Oregon right now – many nervous and eager to meet their housemates and find out what “ruined for life” really means. The 141 volunteers will begin their year by attending a week-long orientation where they will attend sessions and workshops related to the four values of our program (community, social justice, simple living, spirituality) which will provide a foundation for the year ahead. This year’s Orientation theme is Solidarity of Spirit, a true reflection of our intentions for the program. We are so thrilled to meet these wonderful people in person and we can’t wait to see them enter into a new experience of solidarity!
Julia Peters, lead area director, shares her thoughts as we enter this week:
I was really struck by last Sunday’s gospel text from Matthew (14:13-21). It’s the often-told story of the loaves and the fishes. The crowds had followed Jesus to a deserted place and they were hungry. The disciples want to send them away so the masses can buy their own food in the villages but Jesus says, “they need not go away; you give them something to eat.” Somehow, the five loaves and two fish from a boy turn into a feast for 5,000+ with leftovers to spare.
This stayed with me so much because our theme for Orientation this year is “Solidarity of Spirit.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines solidarity as “unity that produces or is based on community,” or I might add, the common good. The boy could have kept his own dinner, but he didn’t. Jesus could have said, “yes, I’m tired—send them away,” but he didn’t. He made it clear that the solution was present and we have a responsibility to bring it about. Oftentimes we may rage at the amount of suffering in the world and utter the timeless demand, “God, do something!” In this story, the response is clear that the “something” we yearn to have done is within us—we are the solution when we act with each other in mind.
As we enter this year focused on solidarity, we aim to always keep the common good—the greater good—at the forefront of our minds.