In light of the current political climate, economic peril and Pope Benedict’s resignation, today’s meditation is more timely than ever. From The Word Among Us:
I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)
In Leo Tolstoy’s tale “Martin the Cobbler,” Martin is told in a dream that Jesus will come to see him. He spends the next day nervously glancing out the window of his shop, looking for Jesus to walk down the street. Several times that day, Martin breaks away from his vigil to welcome and help needy passersby: a weary worker, a freezing mother and infant, and an old woman angry with a misbehaving boy. That night, Martin puzzles over why Jesus never showed up. Just then, he hears a voice asking, “Martin, don’t you know me?” Through the darkness he sees all his needy visitors, each one saying, “It is I.”
They could just as easily have been quoting today’s first reading, in which God tells the Israelites over and over, “I am the Lord.” When Moses reminded the Israelites not to steal or deal falsely with their neighbors, or slander or hate, each admonition reminded them that it was the Lord himself they would be offending. Similarly, in today’s Gospel, when Jesus told the people about the final judgment, he made the same point. Our actions done to even the least of his brethren are done to him.
In Jesus’ parable, the “goats” argued that since they had never seen the Lord, they shouldn’t be faulted for failing to serve him. And the “sheep” were just as surprised to learn that their acts of kindness toward the needy were really actions done to the Lord. Just like Martin the cobbler, these folks learned that by taking care of the people who crossed their path, they were actually meeting Jesus.
We are at the beginning of our Lenten journey. Instead of wondering how Jesus will come to you this Lent, why not go out and meet him? You’ll find him in the eyes of your children. You’ll find him in the touch of your spouse. You’ll find him in the home of a lonely neighbor and in the face of the homeless man downtown. Go and meet him there, and you’ll find it much easier to discover him in the tabernacle at church and in the words you read in Scripture.
“Lord, I don’t want to be so busy looking for you that I fail to see you right before my eyes. Teach me how to find you. Jesus, draw me close to your heart!”
Personally speaking, I believe the Lord has been actively present in my own family through the presence of my brother Ralph. While the world looks upon him and others who have “disabilities” with pity and all too often, derision (evil never fails to make itself known, nor does it ever take a day off), those who’ve had the privilege of being close to someone with Down Syndrome know, understand and appreciate their loving nature, their joy for living, their remarkable sense of humor and their ability to bring out the very best in human nature.
Ralph has always been that person who helps me become a better person through his example. I wish our increasingly secular, humanist and yes — judgmental (though they would take umbrage at such an apt description) society would stop encouraging parents to abort these wonderful children when genetic testing reveals an extra chromosome. Or for that matter, any number of “imperfect” conditions. A real shame and dark stain on our culture that so many have the audacity to proclaim who is “worthy” of life and whose life ought to be snuffed out before they even have a chance to contribute their own unique and powerful brand of humanity to a world in desperate need of God.
On a related note, check out Pray for the Church by Kathryn Lopez.
Have a blessed Monday!