With a small gathering this afternoon, I had the joy of celebrating the Eucharist with Bishop Gabino Zavala, the auxiliary bishop of the San Gabriel region in the Archdiocese of LA. Bishop Zavala frequently sacrifices the afternoon of his single day off during the week to celebrate Mass at the college where I live and work. The staff and students here have great affection for him, so I eagerly anticipated our first encounter.
At the beginning of his homily Zavala recalled the excitement he witnessed during a very recent trip to Washington D.C. He wore a warm grin as he described the buzz of change in the air around the capital city. Against the backdrop of the day’s readings, Zavala reminded us that this exciting time of political change is also about faith for us. As people of faith, we must remember that change begins with us. And often, the way we treat others—even in little ways—can lead to big changes. Jesus exemplifies this with the healing of the leper in the gospel reading. Even after Jesus told the healed man to keep the miracle a secret, he could not contain himself because Christ’s act had made such a significant impression on him.
I walked away from the liturgy with a feeling of immense gratitude. What a gift to hear this loving reminder about the efficacy of our actions in a time when I am feeling particularly overwhelmed by the mammoth changes I long to see in our Church. Zavala implored me to recognize and remember something I already know so well, but often downplay in moments of frustration or sadness: Whenever I cross paths with a kind and humble bishop like Zavala, or a dedicated minister, or amazingly faithful young person, his or her actions and presence and goodness keep me in the Church. They help me to believe in the slow and continual revelation of God through all those seeking the Divine in our church. These individuals change my weary heart. Small actions can lead to incredibly significant changes.
As we celebrate (and I mean CELEBRATE!) the inauguration of our new president, let us continually remind ourselves of the words another wise man once spoke: let us “be the change we wish to see in the world.”