I gathered my belongings off the cobblestone and started my walk to the train station. As I gallivanted solo through the streets of the south of France, I was so thankful Jesus had arranged this trip for me, en route to Lourdes. I looked up ahead and noticed a gathering of French law enforcement officers standing around, made a mental note, and carried on scrolling through my feed.
Before I could look up again, I heard a metal canister hit the ground, and I found myself in a cloud of tear gas. I had unknowingly approached the perimeter of a massive riot. As I started to feel burning from the inside out, I locked eyes with the responsible officer who was beating members of the crowd with a club. Weaving through the long line of military tanks, I was able to find a way to clean air and rinse my eyes in a nearby canal.
I woke up the following day in Lourdes, and I could still smell the tear gas on my burned hands.
Today’s First Reading strangely reminded me of that dark, violating smell.
“Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
That morning, I washed my hands in the water at the grotto. The panic I was still holding onto became my great offering. The lingering smell of chemicals rose as incense, as I lifted the darkness of the memory to Jesus. The memory of the violent crowd was redeemed by the stability of the sanctuary in front of me. I experienced deep, unspoken healing as I handed myself over, and allowed this weird moment of my history to become a meaningful part of my life offering.
Sister, what is the fragrant offering of your life today?