Twilight Twitches

Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In the Gospel this weekend, we hear Jesus asking Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” From all indications, Peter gives an immediate response: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Twenty centuries later, the question is still very relevant for each of us as followers of Jesus: “(Your name here), Who do YOU say that I am?”

We can repeat Peter’s response, and we would be correct. Jesus IS the Christ, the Son of the living God. That’s a pretty intellectual statement. How does that filter down into the heart, into the very core of my being?

I believe we arrive at the answer - which is in some way unique for each of us - through prayer. I also think that who Jesus is for each of us evolves over time. Just as a relationship with another human being evolves, so does our relationship with Jesus.... If we nurture it.

Our greatest prayer together is the celebration of the Mass, the Eucharistic Liturgy. We come together - as we are, with “warts and all” - as the Body of Christ. We are nurtured by the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in the Words of the Scriptures, and in each other. Yes, in each other... that’s what we mean when the Lector says at the beginning of each weekend Mass here that “We hope your presence here helps you to see the face of Jesus.” We are acknowledging Jesus present in each of us, and that has implications for how we treat each other.

There are many ways to pray. I recently read of an older man who was seen going into church eve¬ry day around noon, staying for about two minutes before leaving again. As this continued, folks got curious until the sacristan finally asked him what he was doing. The man replied that he was a simple man who just went to the church to pray, to which the sacristan asked, “What do you say?”
Jim replied, “I say: ’Jesus, here I am, it’s Jim.’ And then I leave.” Eventually, Jim became ill and went to a nursing home. When it seemed Jim was dying, the priest visited him again. The priest asked, “Jim, tell us how it is that from the day you came here, everything changed for the better? How is it that the patients have become happier and friendlier?”

Jim answered, “I don’t know. When I could walk around, I would try to visit everyone and chat with them. When I couldn’t get out of bed, I called everyone over to me to make them laugh, to make them happy.” The priest asked, “But why are you happy?” “Aren’t you happy when you receive a visitor?” asked Jim. “Of course, but we have never seen anyone come to visit you.”

“When I came here I asked you for two chairs. One was for you, Father, and one was reserved for my guest.” “But what guest?” the priest asked. “I used to go to church to visit Jesus every day at noon, but when I couldn’t go anymore, Jesus came here.” “Jesus comes to visit you? What does he say?” He says: “’Jim, here I am, it’s Jesus!’”
Before dying, Jim smiled and gestured with his hand toward the chair next to his bed, as if inviting someone to sit down. He smiled for the last time and closed his eyes. (Adapted from “Five Loaves & Two Fish “ by Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan).

Every evening since Bubba has been staying with me (while “his papa”, Msgr. Jim, is on vacation), after dinner he goes out in the backyard, and lies down on the grass, with his head and ears up at “full alert” mode. He just stays in that position quietly - sometimes for an hour or more. It dawned on me the other evening, that Bubba was showing me something. While he probably has other intentions, isn’t that the perfect disposition for personal prayer, just to be still and listen?

Wishing you a great week!
sign annie

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