As usual, I had another very busy week, capped off by a hectic weekend. This weekend I assisted at several Masses but was not on homily duty. Instead, I caught a homily from a Catholic pastor in New England, Fr. Austin Fleming. Using the Gospel from St. Luke where Jesus assured His followers that He is not a ghost, we again are given another example of Jesus coming to us, to strengthen our faith.
Fr. Austin asks the question, how many times in the past week did the risen Christ appear to you and me? It is a solid question that all of us should ponder. Fr. Austin put it like this: “Jesus lives in those we love and those we don’t love. He lives in the young and in the old and in those not yet born. Who knows how many times in the past week did the risen Christ appear to you and me and ask, in some way, for something to eat, something to drink, for some gesture on our part that we recognize Him”.
This caused me today to think and reflect on the week gone by. On Wednesday night, I was at Rayburn prison for my usual visit and Communion service. There were many new faces in the room tonight seeking Him and beginning the process of humbling self and seeking truth. On this night, something directed me to the infirmary where one inmate asked for prayers and a blessing as he was recovering from an operation. And then on my drive home, I stopped for a drink, mostly to have something to do for the last 25 miles or so. To my total surprise in walks one of the men from Rayburn. He recognized me as I recognized him. There was no fear or anxiety, simply joy at seeing one of the “parishioners” from our faith community on the “outside”. He assured me of being on the right path; a job, family support, seeking the local Catholic Church in town. But right there, in front of the store, he humbly asked for prayers and blessings that he would stay strong, avoid temptation and remain faithful to the Gospel. Yes, how many times in the past week did He appear to me?
That may be the most profound example. As I continued to reflect on the week past, I recalled someone seeking to make sense of ongoing marital issues, another just trying to get through a tough life-changing event, still another wanting prayers for a coworker facing a terminal illness, someone mourning the loss of a loved one. Then there were the excited faces of almost forty children receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time. Yes, how many times in the past week did He appear to me?
In simple ways too, He comes to us. Just spending time with my daughter home for the weekend from college, sharing a laugh or holding hands with my wife, the handshake or sincere hug of a dear friend, going to a restaurant for lunch and being seated next to old family friends not seen in almost ten years, caring for others and knowing others care for you. Yes, how many times in the past week did He appear to me?
How many times in the past week did He appear to you?
And what about the week ahead? Will you be looking for Him, seeking Him, recognizing Him?
After all He is not a ghost; He is truly risen!
Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever!
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