Friday of the First Week


IS 29:17-24

MT 9:27-31


To Cut and Grow: God’s Love and Light in our Lives

As a Jesuit Volunteer in Nashville, Tennessee, I have the privilege of serving at Martha O’Bryan, a community center for below poverty families. My day truly begins when our kids come, bringing their love, light, highs and lows to a 3-hour program of homework, tutoring and fun.

One day, as we prepared to transition to tutoring for 2nd graders, Azariah, walked out of her homework room disgruntled, and crying aggressively. “Azariah, what happened?” I asked. She exclaimed with pain etched in her voice “My head hurts!” All I could think to say was calm down. I tried counting to 20, which typically works, but it only seemed to aggravate her more. Some ten minutes in and I thought I’d never calm her down. Then I noticed something was off. “Close and cover your eyes” I said. I counted to 20. Her cries turned to calmness; her headache slowed and stopped. “Where are your glasses?” I asked.  She opened her eyes, crying harder, and explaining that she’d left them at home as her headache returned. Without her glasses, Azariah couldn’t focus, resulting in painful headaches all day. I gave her a big hug and said “Hey. Forget about tutoring today. Take a nap.” When her mom picked her up, Azariah was completely calm. The next day, she sported her glasses happy and pain free. 

In today’s first reading from Isaiah, we hear “…Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest! …the deaf shall hear the words of a book; And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.” 

In moments of suffering, fear, pain, grief or hopelessness, God removes the desolate forest, growing in its place a beautiful orchard. The cycle of removal and regrowth allows for individuals to heal, grow, gain new insight and experience unrivaled joy. If you’re in a place of suffering, sadness, this season, know I’m with you and God’s light is within you, constantly lifting you up and slowly but surely giving rise to the beautiful orchard your life deserves. 

God Bless and Happy Holidays.

Matt Brooks, ‘19
Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Nashville, TN