By Jillian Zaczyk
It is Friday night, and I have waited all day for someone to reach out. I wish, with all my inner might that I could revise this previous sentence or thought to be: It is a Friday night, and I have plans with my good friends. There are points in life – entering high school, college, moving to a new city, starting a new job – where I’ve experienced this moment of isolation. I feel like an outsider. Scrolling down my newsfeeds and walls seeing the fun times others are having, I start to think, “Why wasn’t I invited?” “Am I not good enough?”
Many times I measure my self-worth by my social life… my busy schedule, Instagramable life moments, my number of followers, etc.
I scroll with curiosity and my inner voice quietly carols: “Am I worthy?” These are feelings and moments few of us talk about because we do not want to feel unworthy, and we surely do not want to be perceived this way.
Just like today’s Gospel, Matt 13:10-17, it is a reading few of us talk about as it stirs some of these uncomfortable feelings. Jesus tells his disciples, “[K]nowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.”
As a 21st century Christian I wonder: Why would Jesus exclude people? Am I in or out? Am I worthy?
I think Jesus’s response to me would be some very real, practical questions: Do you see those hungry and homeless and avoid eye contact when you pass? When you are at mass or on the phone with someone who needs you do you listen or think of the “more important things” on your schedule?
It is not Jesus who is creating partisan groups, rather is it my own thoughts and actions. This “knowledge” Jesus is stressing is the knowledge that Jesus saves, He loves, and He welcomes everyone.
Jesus accepts you, in fact he thinks you’re pretty amazing.
Can you say that about that annoying co-worker? Friend that hasn’t responded to your texts?
I am grateful for the “in crowd” of true disciple. These disciples, past and present, who bear fruit of Jesus words with their kindness and compassion. It is their witness that provides context for modern day parables, so that we who struggle with personal shallowness or worldly pursuits can learn to be different. Jesus says, “This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.”
Jesus sees that we are looking and hearing. He knows we are trying, but sometimes we just don’t get it and fall short.
Keep trying. Keep opening the Gospels, serving the poor, and embodying compassion this is what it means to be a fully alive person, a disciple.
Every day in prayer I strive to grasp Jesus’s deep love for me. I feel it and I know it, and it is that love that reaffirms my worthiness and it is there every day.
Jesus’s love allows me to focus not on my own worth, but on the incredible treasure each person is I encounter.
So when that next weekend rolls around, maybe we can be a witness to this Gospel. Maybe our new sentence can be… It is a Friday night, and I reached out to someone and made a new friend.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jillian wants to live in a world filled with corny jokes and coffee mugs that refill themselves. She is a youth minister, teacher, and missionary discovering God's joy and humor around the world. Her mission is to encounter Jesus and grow in solidarity with everyone she meets, especially the poor. Jillian graduated in May 2015 with a Master of Theological Studies from Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry. She and her husband, Jason, live in Cleveland with their lovable labrador retriever.