What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us; just a stranger on a bus trying to make his way home! Joan Osborne introduced this soulful haunting song in 1995; and not without controversy. Not everyone could get past the bold lyrics and hear the deeper message. The song continues: if God had a face what would it look like and you would you want to see, if seeing meant that you would have to believe…
The message here is about recognizing God, in our lives, in our now. Sometimes we don’t do this. Quite frankly we don’t recognize many other obvious things in our lives either.
As people of faith, we are called to recognize Jesus in our lives and in our “now”.
We have a profound Gospel today, one that all too often may be overlooked, because it comes between that amazing story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus and the Ascension of Jesus.
And He does the same for us today. Whatever He must do, through His Church, he helps us to recognize Him. Even though Jesus is resurrected, has conquered death, His wounds remain for us to remember the depth of His love for us.
In His Church, Jesus leaves us tangible things to help us recognize Him and His love for us. These things the Church calls Sacraments. Every Sacrament: Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation (the Sacraments of Initiation), Reconciliation and Anointing the Sick (Sacraments of Healing) and Matrimony and Holy Orders (Sacraments of Service), reveals Jesus Christ among us. In every Sacrament, Jesus is present. It is Jesus that baptizes, feeds us with His body and blood, and is present in the Bishop who confirms. Jesus forgives sins in reconciliation and forgives those who are sick. It is Jesus who confers his authority on His Priests and His ministry of service on His Deacons. And it is Jesus who elevates Matrimony to that of a Sacrament.
We are called to recognize Jesus Christ in the Sacramental life of the Church. Many of us are called to the Eucharist. How often are we called to Reconciliation? Many of us are called to Matrimony, but do we pray for and support vocations to Holy Orders; both in the community and in our own homes and families? Do we recognize Jesus in the baptism of the tiniest baby among us and the new Catholic at Easter? In our young adults, do we recognize Jesus as they approach Confirmation? When faced with a health concern do we actively see Jesus in the anointing of the sick? As faithful Catholics, we must embrace, support and live the Sacramental life, where we are called to recognize Jesus!
How do we recognize the Sacramental life of the Church? What if God was one of us? One of the most profound ways we are called to recognize Jesus is in our brothers and sisters; especially those who live life on the margins. In our homeless and hungry, see Jesus. In our lonely and scared, see Jesus. In our ill and dying, see Jesus. In the immigrant, legal/illegal and the inmate, see Jesus. In the victim of discrimination, see Jesus.
Just as those disciples recognized Jesus in his wounds, we are called to recognize Jesus in our brothers and sisters; in one another; in us gathered here and those far from us.
What am I called to do this week? How can I live this Gospel this week? We can begin by returning to this very Gospel, once or twice in the week ahead, re-read it carefully and take it to prayer. In the week ahead we can consider that one Sacrament I have taken for granted lately. Perhaps this requires a good confession, or supporting our 2nd graders who soon will receive 1st Holy Communion, or talking to our young people about why being married sacramentally?
In the week ahead, God may be asking me to recognize Jesus in one other person; so that person may recognize Jesus in me. Can I give a half day to the food bank? Can I drop a few extra dollars in the collection basket? Can I visit someone this week at a hospital or a nursing home?
Like our Gospel today, by bringing Jesus to those we recognize as Jesus, can we bring peace and joy?
What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us. Just a stranger on a bus, trying to make his way home.