What does it mean to “see Jesus” in everyone we encounter? And what does it mean when we pray and hope for others to “see Jesus” in us as we go about our days and live our lives?
I found myself pondering these questions earlier today. St. Teresa of Calcutta taught, by her life, the importance of finding and seeing Jesus in others, whatever their condition or social position; she also, I think, embodied the concept of “being” Jesus to those she encountered in her life of service.
What began to engage me in my ponderings was the question: How does this work? Surely we are talking about the same Jesus. But the way we see Him in others might be quite different from the way others see Him in us!
Here’s what I think.
Seeing Jesus in all the people we encounter is the way we live out His statement that whatever good or evil we do to the least among us, we do it to Him (Matt. 25:34-40). As I reflect on this passage, it occurs to me that while it might be much easier for us to “see” Him in those who look and sound and act most like me, that’s not what He is calling me to do. He wants me to look for Him where He is harder to find. And when I see Him there, He wants me to reach out to Him in service. That is what Mother Teresa understood – and to her it was such plain truth that she could not do other than live it. Surely if we know Jesus is present, if we recognize Him there in front of us, we could not refuse Him what He needed. So by seeing Jesus in all the people we encounter, we constantly find moments and opportunities in which to serve those people and, in serving them, to serve our Lord.
For others to see Jesus in us, we must first ask for Him to be present in us and then be open to His presence. The Jesus we want others to see in us is the Jesus Who washed His disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, the Jesus Who touched and healed and taught and served the people who came to Him in need.
When we invite Him into our hearts with the prayer, “…but only say the word, and my spirit shall be healed,” are we open to being and speaking His Word?
When we receive Him in the Eucharist, do we, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, ask Him to stay?
When we see Him in others, do we gladly receive Him?
When we ask Him to be with us, lead us, guide us, do we then look and listen for His presence and leadership and guidance?
For others to see Jesus in us, we must set ourselves aside and let Him take over. Then, and only then, can we begin to serve His people. Then, and only then, can others begin to see, in us, the Jesus Who loves all of us, the Servant Savior Who invites us to follow Him all the way to the Cross and Calvary, and then beyond to the tomb, and then even beyond the tomb to the glory of the Resurrection.
If we recognize Jesus before us in the people we encounter, we cannot help but serve Him. If we ask Him to shine from us so that others can see Him, we cannot help but serve them.
These are little, simple things. They don’t require magnificent knowledge or complex calculations.
But they thrive on love.
To see others is to see Jesus. To see Jesus is to believe Him. To believe Him is to serve Him.
I can live with that.
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