ANSWER: We are here to bear witness to our Lord.
This answer came to me during devotions led by a member of the Jubilee community who was quoting Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement:
We are here to bear witness to our Lord. We are here to follow His lead. We are here to celebrate Him through
these works of mercy... to oppose war and the murder of our fellow human beings, to reach out to all we see and meet. We are not here to prove that our technique of working with the poor is useful, or to prove that we are able to be effective humanitarians... We are responding to a life, to Jesus and how He chose to live...
Day's statement of purpose provides me with a keen insight, one that clarifies and illuminates my life and time at Jubilee. Well now, wait a minute, not just at Jubilee; this insight clarifies and illuminates my life and time anywhere, doesn't it? This thought places wherever I am and whatever I'm doing in the Christian context—that I live to bear witness to God's unfailing love and mercy and choose to live as Jesus bids us live, however imperfectly.
So, on December 20, when I return to the Earlewood community in Columbia and to my faith community at Incarnation Lutheran, each with its set of joys and challenges, my purpose is not to prove how compassionate I am or wipe out the injustices of society or see how many individuals I can serve, but to bear witness to our Lord. Where such witness leads and what results it brings is an open question, a path untraveled.
Sometimes the efforts of those involved in the Catholic Worker Movement were labeled as impractical. I daresay that label is applied to many organizations seeking to alleviate the suffering of those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, and/or in prison. Again, I resonate with Dorothy Day's response: “They are right. We are impractical, as one of us put it, as impractical as Calvary.”