Daily Devotion 02 May 2020

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Matthew 25:35-40 ‘Recognizing Jesus in our Neighbour’

35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

I do miss shaking hands with people. I know it’s a sensible precaution but it does mean that we don’t have that traditional way of showing friendship and respect to each other. Some have taken to bumping elbows or kicking ankles instead – I can’t get on with that at all. I like the way Prince Charles recently dealt with the problem by greeting folk with Namaste. Namaste (pronounced nam-ASS-tee) is a common cultural practice in India. It is usually given with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. In Hinduism, the word ‘Namaste’ means ‘I recognise and bow to the divine in you’.

Mother Teresa was one of the most powerful symbols of the virtue of Christian love and charity, who saw Christ in ‘the disguise of the poor.’ Teresa saw people differently. She saw them through God’s eyes, which means that she saw each of them as God’s dear child. Mother Teresa died in 1997, but even now when we think about her work, we can learn all we need to know about living in love – not for money or power, talent or intelligence, but love. Teresa saw Jesus in the poor, the sick, disabled or abandoned, and loved them. Once when she was interviewed for Time magazine, she was asked what motivated her work, she replied, ‘We try to pray through our work by doing it with Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus. That helps us to put our whole heart and soul into doing it. The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved they are Jesus in disguise.’ She was also asked what was God’s greatest gift to her, she said: ‘The poor people, because with them I have an opportunity to be with Jesus twenty-four hours a day.’ It is our challenge and our calling to see Christ in other people.

This situation we are in is putting a great strain on many relationships and lockdown stress can be seen in different ways. If we’re honest, most of us have to admit that seeing Christ in some people is challenging. How can we learn to see Our Lord in the people who make life difficult in one way or another? Only through God’s grace and an effort on our part to act on that grace. This can only happen through prayer. So here’s a prayer to see Jesus in others:

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help us to see you in every human being, maybe disguised but really there. We want to make every act a service rendered to you, so we pray Lord for the grace to love you in our neighbour – indeed in everyone we meet. May we never put limits on our forgiveness, so that our Father God will forgive us when we get it wrong. Lord, in these difficult times help us to be living examples of your great commandment to love one another as you have loved us. AMEN.

Image: freely available.
Reflection and Prayer © 2020 Howard John.

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