Franciscan Mission Service presents: 

“Poor and Free: A Spiritual Yes to Less” every Friday in Lent

Series contributions: 

Our series contributors focus on the joyful freedom of spiritual poverty. The Good News is that detachment of ownership leads us to greater reliance on God which makes us more available to love and serve the poor. 

In today’s post, Amy Echeverria writes about saying “Yes” to love. Amy has worked with Columban Missionaries for many years, an organization with whom Franciscan Mission Service has had a fruitful relationship.

    I was in Hong Kong recently, and while there, I stopped and went into a Catholic Center where some of our Columban missionaries serve the local and migrant community. As I knelt in the chapel, I became very aware of my own limitations, fears, and doubts.

    I observed the other visitors who came, went, sat, and prayed. All were women: young and old, hints of wealth and poverty, Chinese and Filipina.

    I was struck by their faithfulness, taking a few moments in the middle of their day to drink from the Well – perhaps a break from preparing a meal, or on their way to pick up children from school, or before heading home after a day’s work. 

    Without knowing their stories, I could see that these were ordinary women living extraordinary lives of faithfulness and dedication.

    Leonardi de Vinci’s “Annunciation

    We recently read of the Annunciation of the Lord which is always a bit of a surprise in the middle of Lent, but this year it made perfect sense in the context of my Hong Kong experience. Mary, another ordinary woman living an extraordinary life, was frightened and doubtful when Gabriel came to her and she questioned, “How can this be?”

    I often find myself asking how God can choose me to be a vessel of Love in the world, knowing as I do, my human weaknesses.

    In this season of Lent, a time of renewal and self-forgetfulness, I suppose that’s the courage, faith, hope, and joy Mary embodies in her saying “Yes” to the unknown – yes to the darkness – yes to love – yes to limitations – yes to vulnerability. I see in a new way that Mary’s “Yes” wasn’t so much about Jesus’ birth or standing at the cross.

    Her “Yes” was to love. This is the hardest “Yes” of all because it takes us places we would never choose to go, including face-to-face with our own inner poverty.

    But it is in this journey into the belly of the whale or the silence of the tomb that we are met with God’s compassion and love. It is through this encounter which we are impelled back out into the world to be that same love.

    Amy Woolam Echeverria’s missionary calling first led her to Chile where she lived for five years serving with women and youth in economically and socially vulnerable communities as well as with migrants and refugees.

    While in Chile, she began working with Columban Missionaries, and currently Amy serves as the Columban Missionaries’ International Coordinator for Justice Peace, and the Integrity of Creation. Columban Missionaries serve in 13 countries and include migration, environmental justice, peace, and economic justice as among their JPIC priorities. Amy is the mother of two and says that through her son (12) and daughter (7) she experiences the Paschal Mystery daily.