The embrace of a brother is the embrace of Christ.
When my coworker, who I felt had resented me for the better part of a summer, was in a time of need, he came to me and asked me for a hug before we turned in for the night. That hug lasted nearly an hour.
He certainly wasn’t a normal coworker, but then again, Totus Tuus isn’t a normal summer job. It requires you to travel every week, working long days in a team of three other people. Our objective: to spread Christ’s love to the youth we encounter. I never thought more tribulations would come from my team than the kids, and that was my first mistake, I suppose.
I felt criticized and ignored. Most days I would stress before I fell asleep, asking myself “What could be causing this man to be hostile towards me?” I couldn’t figure it out. Still, I had a sense that there was an underlying cause to this madness, something besides our interpersonal conflict. In the end, I’m glad that God sent me the message to be compassionate when he needed it the most. If it wasn’t for the counsel of a Brother Knight and seminarian who was at the parish that week, I don’t know if I would’ve been open to receiving this message, either.
So we stood there for an hour as I held him, and I could tell that wounds were being healed. I may not understand what those wounds were, but I could tell God was at work. My prayer life hadn’t been as good as it should have been, and I’d seen the unwanted results of that in numerous ways. But God still worked through me and offered me his warm embrace just as I offered mine to a man in need.
I’ve realized that times like these are times when I encounter Christ’s loving embrace the most. When I held a friend as he cried about how he was a burden to me and didn’t understand his struggles with same-sex attraction, Christ was there. When I held a friend who was ready to crack under the weight of bipolar disorder, Christ was there. When I held a friend with trust issues stemming from past relationships and violations nobody should have to deal with, Christ was there.
And if an embrace or a listening ear is deemed too sentimental, so be it. Though some would disagree, I’d call it masculinity in the most authentic sense of the word. These relationships, based on the true relationship to which Christ calls us, show what it truly means to be a brother.
I’ve got many great brothers in the Knights of Columbus and otherwise. My brotherhood to you is not contingent on whether you join an organization. However, I hope that we, by our lives, inspire you to live out this brotherhood with us. We are brothers united in Christ and called to serve.
I’m honored to be a defender of these ideals as your Grand Knight this year. May the embrace of Christ be apparent in all that we do here at Illini Council. We hope you feel truly welcome as we offer our arms in service to you, as brothers and as Knights.