Ordinary Encounters

These reflections actually began with Christmas, the incomprehensible feast celebrating the unbelievable fact: God with us, God loving us (see "Living the Word," November-December 1995).

Shelley's meditations, this time the first four, revolve around Jesus' presence in ordinary encounters, calling us to lose ourselves in finding him. Jim's meditations, the second four, center on the results of responding to that presence in suffering people.

These readings lead us into Lent, reflecting always on Jesus' radical challenge to repent and follow him before anything or anyone else. Like the disciples we begin by answering a call we don't understand. Then we encounter both the pain and joy of following the suffering servant. We turn back only to be summoned again.

Where and how is Jesus calling each of us to follow him today?

January 7 (Epiphany): God's Glory Still
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

Brother John is a 73-year-old friar who escaped World War II Poland by walking cross-country on bare and bleeding feet. He was a laborer in Hitler's Germany, where he was paradoxically safe, warm, and fed-and where he outwitted the authorities repeatedly.

He told me one day about walking through a devastated city after the Allied carpet bombings. It was all rubble, he said, and there was a thick mud that stuck to his boots, so that every few steps he had to stop and scrape it off. There was a stench. Eventually he realized that he was walking on human debris: the remains of people killed in the bombings. Almost nothing could be recognized, just a piece of bone here and there.

Brother John said that he never forgot that experience: "They were human beings too," he said. "They were people like us."

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1996
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