While the world media moves on rather quickly from disasters, the Christian remains at the foot of the Cross, because it is Jesus who suffers in our neighbor. Though the cameras and reporters depart, for some, just recovering from shock, it is just the beginning: Suffering from the deaths of loved ones, loss of belongings and means of support, living in hot tents or shelters, burying the dead, trying to put back together their lives. These are the steps of our pilgrimage: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt. 25:40) We can become the face of Jesus to others.
“The Lord Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to attain our goal: ‘Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (Lk 6:37-38) …It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy…to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.” –Pope Francis, Face of Mercy
As the rain poured down in Manoppello, we received word from our family that the state of Louisiana was once again flooding–which renewed anxiety and fear for our friends and loved ones back home. Our area had already suffered greatly from floods back in March. Facing our fears and trusting in God is always a part of pilgrimage. And now, the heartbreaking news of the devastating earthquake in central Italy as well as the ongoing suffering from the terrible floods here in Louisiana remind us to seek the Face of Jesus in our neighbor on our life’s pilgrimage.
In a few short days, we will celebrate the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Blessed Mother Teresa heroically carried out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by being the Merciful Face of Christ to others and by seeing the Merciful Face of Christ in others and most especially in the Eucharist, from which she and the Missionaries of Charity drew the grace and strength to serve Jesus “in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
“Seeking the Face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and His hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.” –Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Let us follow the example of Mother Teresa and seek the face of Jesus in our neighbor by whatever means we have and remember in our prayers all those who have suffered and are continuing to suffer in the world. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (to be continued in Pt. 4...)