By: Amelia Gil-Figueroa, Candidate
Reflection originally written on the Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle (21-9-2015)
“You are strangers and aliens no longer. No, you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God. You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is fitted together and takes shape as a holy temple in the Lord; in him you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.”
– Ephesians 2:19-20, Reading from Morning Prayer
While those who know me may not agree, I am quite shy and insecure. Add on some natural indecisiveness and a sometimes overbearing aim to please and you get an interesting cocktail of social awkwardness/anxiety. While I tend to get along well with my peers, I have never felt as if I truly fit; like an outsider who is accepted out of common courtesy, or a person who said something funny, smart, or cool once thus giving them merit to be part of the group. I would always tell my mom, “I don’t know if I consider them very good friends. I can’t really be myself around them.”
Ever since I was little, my mother (i.e. my confidante) instilled in me the sense that my faith was my own. Though she taught me the basics, she reminded me that my relationship with the Lord is my own, that this relationship will develop and grow, and that I cannot compare my relationship with the Lord to anyone else’s (especially hers). I have always taken that to heart and in high school, and then even more so in college, I started truly making my faith not just something I professed, but something that I lived. This led me to find and become a member of the Women Youth Apostles.
Over the past two years as candidate in this community, I have learned so much about our Church, laughed and cried with sisters, been challenged and encouraged, and have grown in my faith. With the support of the community I have been pushed out of my comfort zone many times and have been given beautiful opportunities to encounter Christ in others, to sit in His presence, and meet Him in the sacraments. I have learned, and many times need to be reminded, to give the Lord all that I have – my insecurities, fears, awkwardness – and give new purpose to my aim to please: I must always strive to please the Lord in all my works.
You may be thinking “what does any of this have to do with the quote from Ephesians?” When I first entered community, we were blessed to have a community house not far from our brother Youth Apostles. We held sharing meetings, socials, dinners, and there I met with my sponsor. Unfortunately, there came a time when circumstances did not allow for us to have a house. While I didn’t live there myself, I loved going there, and I truly felt the loss of a home. A home is not merely a building; and while the sisters who lived there had to find a roof over their heads, we as a community were all affected, having no place of our own to meet and worship.
Recently in July, we were able to find a new house. Four sisters currently live there, and never has a house been more joyfully and excitedly talked about than this one. While Paul in his letter to the Ephesians is referring to the fact that, though Gentiles, they are now part of the body of Christ, this reading reminded me of the joy that came with finding a home for our community. We as Women Youth Apostles “form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” How true it was reading that we “are strangers and aliens no longer”, that we are “fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God”. Reading this on the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle, I found that this passage illustrated the purpose of the home: “to be a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” But it also echoed the longings of my own heart: that in being a member of the Women Youth Apostles, I have found a community to call my home; a community that leads me to the Lord, and in doing so leads me to truly be and know more of myself.
Like the apostles, we all come from different backgrounds and have different personalities and ways of communicating with our Lord. But “through Him the whole structure is fitted together and takes shape as a holy temple in the Lord”. “With Christ Jesus himself as the capstone”, all the differences disappear, and we come together to work the vineyard of the Lord, bring the youth of our diocese into closer communion with Christ. On the outside, our house may seem like any other house, with people coming and going in a natural ebb and flow. But to us, it is a house blessed by God as a place to belong. For me, both the house and the community are just that: a place to belong, a place to call home.
Read more about our Community House here.