NET is about ministry and leading people to Christ, but just like life, it’s also about family. So many things lead us back to Christ but none more than the family. A family is just a random group of people that God places together who all share a common goal of getting to heaven (Sound familiar? Yeah that’s what we thought too). We aren’t just talking about our team as a family here, we’re also talking about the family of Christ, and in a more concrete way the host homes we stay in.
Three things have stood out to us so clearly as we’ve been traveling the past four months. When you miss your real family with everything you have in you, your team steps up with love, your host family makes you feel at home, and Christ shows you how people all across the world are fighting with and for you.
So what is a good family? Sometimes our earthly families are so clouded by sin that the thought of a family hurts us, and it can be hard to see what God wants. So what then is this ingredient that lifts a family closer to what God intended for them? When we examine the Holy Family we can see what it is that God intended for this mission. In this most perfect, glorious family they first and foremost always sought Christ, and put God’s plan for them before anything else, even abandoning their “rights” as parents or children to support one another.
When the Holy Family lost Jesus in the temple, they dropped everything and turned back to look for Him. Think of that mother’s heart that ached for her lost Son, not knowing where He was or if He was okay. Think of St. Joseph, who silently suffered, supporting Mary and dealing with his own sorrow. But instead of giving up after three days, they kept going; they persisted relentlessly in pursuit of their Son. And when they found Him, they were “astonished.” They didn’t expect to find Him where they did. This story echoes deeply for our team. What brings us closer to each other every single time is our pursuit of Christ, when we relentlessly and passionately look for Him everywhere we go. In our pain, in our sorrow, in our joy, if we don’t look for Christ, we separate. But when we see Him everywhere, we are “astonished” to find Him in all of these places. Especially in each other!
We are also supported by the Family of the Church, the Body of Christ, everywhere we go. We rejoice when we are welcomed with open arms, and when we aren’t, we turn to the words of St. Paul, “Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good” (Romans 12:21) and unite that suffering to Christ’s, who suffered the same persecution. Two of us girls were staying with a host mom who is 73, and you would think we wouldn’t be able to relate since we’re 19 and 22, yet because of our faith, we were able to converse freely and with love. People give us whole entire apple pies because they support us, and even beyond that, I think each person on our team has at least 100 people praying for them!
Over and over again we are amazed at the generosity of the host families we stay with who sacrifice so much for us. Just like Mary had to give up her plan to birth her baby where she wanted, or live where she wanted, or have the life she wanted, these people give up their homes and their time to support our mission. One host family taught a teammate, Katie, about how to better love the team. The host family had a group of young couples over to discuss St. John Paul II’s “Love and Responsibility”. One question that was brought up was, “When did you start to take responsibility for your spouse?” Though none of the NET team members are married, this question struck home. Katie says, “This question really made me think about if I take responsibility for my team members. I am called to love them sacrificially, much like spouse is called to love spouse. Do I take responsibility for their well being? Each of us have been put on the team to help the others get to Heaven. Do I wake up every morning and ask, ‘what can I do today to help my teammates get to Heaven? How can I love them better today?’ I realized that my job as a sister is to love them exactly as they are, to take responsibility for helping them get to Heaven.”
There is a reason that God made the family, and each day as a team we strive to be an image of the Holy Family. During this season of Advent, we challenge you to look at the example of the Holy Family and strive to love your own family better, so that together you can welcome Jesus when He comes at Christmas!
So from our family to yours, Happy Advent!