As we come to the end of the first quarter, we can be grateful for the many accomplishments and successes, not only of our students and teachers, but for the very fact of re-opening, without, to date, any indication of the presence or spread of COVID-19 on our campus. Our students, who were cooped up and isolated from March through the beginning of September, returned back to the classroom and reconnected with friends and learning in person. This opportunity, for the majority, was a return to a bit of normalcy.
Being around other people, however, has its challenges. There are rules to follow, new concepts to be learned, and conflicts to be resolved. Just as adults are a bit weary of the pandemic, so are our children, and they are less likely to be able to verbalize their anxiety. Tackling behavioral and academic struggles, which in ordinary times is a normal reality, somehow becomes more stressful and challenging to overcome. Social conflicts, which require time and practice to learn how to maneuver, often develop into mountains rather than molehills. During these unsettling times, when we can’t see the clear path ahead, we can seek peace and hope through our faith and in God’s abiding love.
In Father Mel’s homily this past weekend, he explained that in the English language, there is only one word to describe “love,” while in the Greek language there are three: Eros, Philia, and Agape. Eros heavily relies on feelings and is associated with romantic love. Philia refers to the love between friends. The love in both Eros and Philia is given with the intent of getting something in return. Agape, on the other hand, is a self-sacrificing love and it focuses on action. It is not based on feelings or regard for oneself. Rather, the giver is primarily interested in the welfare of others.
As we look ahead toward the upcoming holidays and winter traditions, with the growing understanding that we are not yet close to returning to normal, we have the opportunity to practice the Great Commandment through the selfless love of Agape. Even though our own situations may be a struggle at times, we know there are others who are suffering more. So, in the coming weeks, look with intentionality to your family members, friends, and neighbors and offer a kind word or deed. By reaching out to them, you will be extending Christ’s love at a time when they desperately may need it the most.