Last Monday our school held a mass to celebrate Christ the King (the English translation of the Spanish Cristo Rey). To me, it’s always felt strange to think of Jesus as a king, and I want to consider what His reign looked like and how it informs us at Cristo Rey Boston.
Christ was a king like none other. He was a king for the poor. More importantly, he was a king among the poor. Poor, hungry, sick, imprisoned, it didn’t matter. He lived with them and broke bread with them, healed them and prayed with them. He recruited them as his disciples. He sat down with the outcasts of his time, the lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors, and he washed their feet. Christ the King didn’t rule. He served.
Our Widening Horizons program contains a strong service component. Every sophomore, junior, and senior must complete three service activities each year. Our school offers monthly service opportunities, including chances to package meals for the sick, organize clothing for mothers and their children, and visit the elderly in nursing homes. This weekend, a group of students will be making holiday baskets.
We continue our commitment to service in our Corporate Work Study Program by placing 23 students at non-profits, such as the American Red Cross, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, Cradles to Crayons, and United Way. We believe that the experience of serving an underprivileged population is extremely enriching for students who have spent their lives defined as underprivileged.
The point of our service component is to emphasize to our students that poor, sick, hungry, ill, and imprisoned are names that fail to account for a person’s inherent holiness. As Christ said, he is in the poor: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Although our students have been labeled poor, economically limited, or low-income, we know this is a small part of who they are, and we witness their riches every day.
In thinking about names, I’m reminded of a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” We speak loudest and most honestly in the way we carry out our lives. So as we prepare our students to become community leaders, professionals, and well-rounded individuals, we emphasize that our mission in life is always to serve. Not to take our talents and bury them, but to multiply our talents and share them with others.
In giving we find true wealth. In serving we become royalty.