Meeting Jesus Today
GUIDING LIGHT - Rev. Fr. Benjamin Sim, Sj (The Freeman) - August 26, 2017 - 4:00pm

In today’s Gospel, it seems that Jesus’ reputation and news of his miracles and preaching had spread far and wide ahead of him.  A lot of people who didn’t know Jesus had heard others talk about him, but they never met him themselves.

But that’s not a big problem then.  One of Jesus’ followers could tell them, “Come with us today.  Jesus will be speaking along the lake-shore.  Listen to him yourself.  Afterward you can meet him and talk with him.”

It’s not that easy for us today.  There’s no one who can say to us, “Come with us today, Jesus will be speaking at the shopping mall.  Listen to him yourself.  Afterward you can meet him and talk to him.”

This brings up an important question.  Where can we find Jesus today?  Where can we listen to him?  Where can we meet him in person and get to know him ourselves? And of course, you and I know the answer.  We find Jesus right here in this church, as we celebrate together the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus himself said, “Where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.” (Matt. 18:20)

Granted we find Jesus around the Lord’s Table, how can we hear him speak to us?  Again, you and I know the answer.  Jesus speaks to us through the Scripture, especially as it is read and explained at Mass.  Jesus himself said to his disciples, “Whoever listens to you listens to me.” (Luke 10:16)

And, finally, how do we meet Jesus in person?  Again we know the answer.  We meet Jesus in the Eucharistic banquet, which we share in the Holy Mass.

But is this the only place where we can meet Jesus in today’s world?  How about the other six days of the week?  Is it possible to meet Jesus in the course of our everyday life?  The answer is yes.

First of all we meet him, again, when two or three gather in his name.  This happens especially when we gather as a family around the meal table and say grace together in his name.  It’s a moving experience to see a family holding hands as they say grace together.  At the moment they join hands, Jesus becomes present to that family in a special way.

If holding hands while saying grace is not a part of your supper gathering, I suggest you do it this coming week as a special response to this Sunday’s reading.  It may seem awkward at first, but it will help bring home the fact that Jesus joins you then in a special way.

A second way we meet Jesus during the week is when we reach out to someone in need. Whenever we share with someone hungry, house someone homeless or befriend someone lonely, we meet Jesus.

 “I tell you,” said Jesus, “whenever you did this for one of the least important  of these brothers [and sisters] of mine, you did it for me.”  (Matt. 25: 40)

The needy person we reach out to may be a husband, wife, or child, or someone outside the family.

A third way we meet Jesus during the week is when we are tired or depressed, or afraid, or confused, and we reach out to Jesus in prayer.  “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest…  Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest.”  (Matt. 11: 28-29)

And also we don’t have to travel backward into history to meet Jesus, listen to him, and talk to him.  Jesus is risen and present in our world today.  He is here just as truly as he was in Galilee.

Let us sum up what we have been saying with a story. 

In his book “Prayer from Where You Are,” James Carroll recalls something many of us remember from our childhood.  Every Sunday the comic page of the newspaper used to carry a series of the printed games. 

One of everybody’s favorites was a picture showing some scene, like a family enjoying a picnic in a park.  Printed beneath the picture were the words, “Can you find the man hidden in this scene?”

You’d look and look, and at first you wouldn’t see anything that looked like a man.  Then you’d turn the paper around this way and that way to get a different view of it.  Suddenly, from the edge of a fluffy white cloud you’d see an ear.  Then, from the green leaves of a tree you’d see a mouth, and so on, until you’d see an entire man’s face smiling out at you from the picnic scene.

Once you saw that man, that picnic scene was never the same again.  For you had found the hidden man.  You yourself had seen his smiling face.

It’s that way in our own lives.  We Christians know, by faith, that there’s a man hidden away in every scene of daily life.  And that man’s name is Jesus. 

Once we find him and meet him, up close and personal, no scene in life is ever the same again.  That is part of the message in today’s Gospel.  That is part of the good news of the Lord that we are to carry into the week with us.               

Let us conclude with a Prayer:

Lord, Help us find you

Not, only in joined hands

Around the family dinner table,

But in outreached hands

To the lonely and needy

And in up-reached hands to you in personal prayer.

Help us see your smiling face looking out at us

From every scene of daily life.

Then, with Peter,

We too will be able to say,

“Lord, you are the Messiah,

The Son of the living God.”

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