In the Small Things

August 20 John 6: 22-29 “In the Small Things”

People often asked me about the number of people we serve–and my response is usually, “I do not keep count.”I am often asked to do things for other organizations: “Climate Change”, “Immigration”, and go to all the rally’s and I do not, for one reason I can only do one thing–the ministry God has given me–and do it well. Personally I am very singled purpose in my life because I have found in the words of Mother Teresa: “We can not do great things on this earth, we can only do little things with great love.” And Archbishop Romero said: “We can not do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something and to do it very well.” So I strive to do the small things and do them well.

We tend to look at life with our eyes focused on what is in front of us, but around us there is much pain and suffering in our midst. The Franciscan Network sent this email which I find worth reflecting upon.  We buy food which comes from the hands of these labors–I think of this as I look in the fields of Salinas and Southern California:

One theme throughout our readings this Sunday is that we are all beloved by the Father and “that we may be called the children of God.” (1 Jn. 3:1) In the Gospel, the image of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd reminds us that all are included in the “one flock.” (John 10: 16) St. John reminds us that the Good Shepherd is also the victim “who laid down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:15) Jesus recognizes himself in all victims, and lived His public life trying to bring justice and dignity to the victims in the society of the day. As followers of Jesus, we are called to also strive to bring justice and dignity to the most vulnerable in our society. These include the more than twenty-seven million children, women and men trapped in labor trafficking linked to our global economy.

These children, women and men are enslaved in plain sight all around us. They may include those who prepare meals, serve you, or wash dishes as you eat in your favorite restaurant. They may be those who clean your hotel room or work under inhumane and unsafe conditions in factories to provide the shoes and the clothes that you wear. They may be the children or adults who pick the vegetables and fruit you enjoy. They may be those who come to your door selling magazines, or those who work in your health club or beauty salon.

Labor traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will. One common thread that unites all victims is that they come from poverty and continue to live in poverty. Another common thread, far more important, is that they are all “children of God” (1 John 3:1-2.)

Labor traffickers could be compared to the hired man in the Gospel – “he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” (John 10:10) The victim is just a cheap and disposable means to profit. There are reports that in the commercial fishing industry many trafficked children are actually thrown overboard if they become too ill to work.

Just as the Good Shepherd seeks out the most vulnerable sheep, we are called to seek out the victims in our society and to do all we can to empower them. We are also responsible for being aware of how our consumerism is affecting the economically poor and powerless in the world and in our community. As consumers, we are complicit in benefiting from the trafficking of children, women and men. To find out more on how many slaves work for you to maintain your lifestyle please go to Slavery Footprint.

In 2012, California enacted the Supply Chain Transparency Act which states that large businesses in the state must disclose the working conditions for all people who supply the products for the company. National legislation which would require companies to be transparent with information about supply chains and how they are addressing labor trafficking within their business operations would serve to bring this hidden slavery to light. For more information on human trafficking, please go to the FAN website.

Sr. Maryann Mueller

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