Meeting Jesus … along the way
Published: December 24th, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY — I saw Him last summer at Lake Hefner. Members of the Jewish community gathered to pray for three young men, children of Abraham, who were murdered in another spurt of violence aimed at the nation and people of Israel. We followed Vered Harris that day, as she also prayed for a young Arab Muslim who had been killed in retaliation for those deaths.
I felt the Father (Abba) on December 16, when the Chabad Community Center and “my” rabbi, Ovadia Goldman , lit the Menorah in Bricktown on the first night of the festival of lights, lifting communal petitions to our loving God (http://city-sentinel.com/2014/12/community-chanukah-lighting-scheduled-for-dec-16/).
I saw Him in early December during a fundraiser at Church of the Open Arms, benefiting the basement Food Pantry where the poor can “shop” for necessities. I heard Him in traditional songs and verses proclaimed there, in the a capella grace of “Mixed Company” and “the Back Row,” in the flute/guitar prelude, in Tara Henry’s joyful call for a Long-Distance Operator to get “Jesus on the Line,” from the grace in Tim Robinson’s soaring instrumentals, and through the actions of Pantry volunteers.
His message arose again days later, in the annual Vespers service from Oklahoma City University.
I saw Him in the life of John Paul the Great, the best Roman Catholic pontiff of my lifetime. I hear Him in JP II’s successors, Benedict and Francis. I understand Him in the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel, using words if necessary.” I experience Him when Our Lady’s Cathedral Choir raises united voices for Sacred Liturgies, year after year.
I felt Him yet again last month, sitting in a pew at Steve Kern’s Olivet Baptist, as he sang a love song (his own composition) to his wife.
I know Him, in the breaking of the bread, in the embrace of friends and family, in the cuddle of a grandchild, in the students at Justice Alma Wilson Seeworth Academy.
I do not profess to understand every moment when I met Jesus, along the way. With age has come the certainty that I have entertained Angels, unaware (Hebrews 13:2). As St. Paul said, I saw through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12), and one day shall see God, face to face. Truth is immutable, yes, but our experience of it is colored by personality, disposition, the totality of a given moment of vulnerability, or anger, or intellectual acuity.He is there in the moments of love, and even in times of hate. Usually just outside the realm of sight, but sometimes right in front of me. As my Savior said, I only need eyes to see, and ears to hear (Matthew 11:15; 13:9)
And, to be sure, a heart to believe.
May it be so.
“The proof of love is its manifestation in deeds (1 John 4:16). … [L]et not one believe the answer his heart gives in his own case apart from the testimony of his works. Let him examine his words, his thoughts and his life concerning the love of his Creator. God’s love is never idle. Where it exists, it does great things; if it refuses to work, it is not love.”
– Homily 30, from ‘Gregory the Great: Forty Gospel Homilies’ (Cisterian Publications)
pp 236-237, translated from Latin by Dom David Hurst, Monk of Portsmouth Abbey