KJL: Why do you encourage receiving the Eucharist when faith feels fragile? Shouldn’t you wait until you make sure you believe?
Fr. Hurd: The Eucharist is not a reward for good behavior or perfect faith. Instead, it’s nourishment the Lord gives us to keep making headway on our faith journey — a journey in which we’ll encounter ups and downs, highs and lows, joys and sorrows, and both periods of doubts and times when we’re left scratching our heads, or even hanging on by a thread. Pope Francis, in his new Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, puts it beautifully. The Eucharist, he explains, “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
KJL: What is it that God asks of us when we encounter a man with a paper cup outside church or on the way to work? There are prudential questions, after all, aren’t there, about what will really be done with the money we might hand over?
Fr. Hurd: They’re brothers and sisters in the human family, right? Jesus died for them and loves them just as much as He loves anyone else. What He asks us to do when we encounter them is to treat them with dignity and respect, suspend judgment, and exercise the Golden Rule — you know, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus even made a special point of insisting that any kindness we extend to them is a kindness we extend to him. That means to ignore a person with a paper cup on the sidewalk is, in a sense, to ignore the Lord himself! Might they spend any money we give on booze? Perhaps, but what they do with our gift is their responsibility, not ours.
KJL: What does faith have to do with doing the dishes?
Fr. Hurd: Our life is filled with chores and daily routines. They’re as certain as death and taxes! But we often approach them as necessarily evils to be endured so we can move on to more exciting or enjoyable activities. And let’s face it: Most of us would rather curl up with a good book than fold the laundry! But if we remember that our chores are acts of service, we can allow them to help us become servants in imitation of Jesus, who “came not to be served, but to serve.” And that includes doing the dishes. After all, as St. Teresa of Avila said, “God walks amongst the pots and pans!”