On building genuine relationships
In the book Same Kind of Different as Me, Deborah Hall was a true light to all dark places in which she walked. She had a spark and her spark was contagious, because instead of staying safely in her personal bubble, she ventured forth into the souls of all she met, “infect(ing) em with love.” Her ministry was effective and life-changing because she made a personal investment of time and energy in the people she met at the mission, especially Denver. If we wish to make a difference in the lives of others, we must be consumed with a sincere desire to know and love them fully, to become part of their lives.
Any interaction between persons can be called an encounter, but while investing in the lives of others, every encounter must become an engagement, a relationship. Denver's analogy of “catch and release” illustrates perfectly Blessed John Paul II's idea of the personalistic norm, that all interactions and relationships must be focused on the persons involved. The person must cease to become a brushstroke of color on the canvas of your life, and be “blown up” into life-sized proportions, filling the screen with their unique and irreplaceable character. In our engagements with others, we must treat each and every individual as though they were the only person in the world.
When you meet someone for the first time, don't just pass them by, averting your eyes and ignoring them. Look into their eyes and smile. Even if it's just for a second, make every moment the highlight of someone's day, a someone in whom the image and likeness of God is crying out for love. We must also not forget those closest to us, our family, who strangely are most often the recipients of our uncharitable words and deeds. We must go the extra mile to imbue our parents, our siblings, our spouse, or our children with the truest sense that they are important to us. In his opening convocation address to the freshman class of Benedictine College, Dr. Robert George said that “each one of us is an investment of love”, and we are most profoundly an investment of divine love. Let us all, then, capitalize on that investment of love by coming to know that beautiful an unique person for whom divine blood was shed.