May 9, 2020 – Saturday of the 4th Week of Easter
Click here for the reading (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050920.cfm)
One day, a boy opened their fridge and got two cupcakes and two small bottles of orange juice. When his mother saw this, she asked him, “Are you going out to play?” The boy replied, “I am going out, Mom, to find God.” “Well, good luck son. Tell me, then, when you find Him,” said the mother.
So, the boy set on his journey to find God. He was walking and walking. He saw trees and birds and flowers everywhere. He reached the tall buildings in their city, saw the busy traffic and the crowd of people crossing the street. Yet, not a single person noticed him.
It was about snack time that he went to a park and found a bench where a homeless woman sat. The woman looked very sad, looking aimlessly. And since the boy was quite tired, he decided to sit and have his snacks. Sitting on that bench, he opened his bag and got his two cupcakes and two small bottles of orange juice.
The boy, then, shared his cupcakes and orange juice to the homeless woman. The woman accepted his offer gladly, and looked at the boy with a big smile on her face. The boy, then, looked into the eyes of the woman and saw happiness in her.
The homeless woman, grateful to this boy, found tremendous generosity from him. While enjoying their snacks the two shared stories and laughed together.
After the snacks, the boy said his goodbye to the homeless woman and went home. When the boy arrived home carrying a smile on his face, was greeted by his mother. She said, “How was your day, son? Have you met Him (God)?”
The boy answered joyfully, “God is a woman, mom, and she has the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.”
Meanwhile, the homeless woman wearing a smile that she couldn’t hide decided to take her walk. Along the way she met an old homeless man. The old man was intrigued as the woman could not hide her joy reflected on her face. So, he asked, “What’s with your smile? You seemed to be filled with joy today.” The woman replied with cheerfulness, “Oh, I just met God today. He was a boy, much younger than I expected.”
This story shows us an encounter with God, in finding and meeting God in our human and ordinary experiences. This story may bring us into that experience of surprise from God because God reveals his presence in ways we do not expect.
Our readings today, both in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Gospel of John tell us of this story of the revelation of God in unexpected yet ordinary ways. Consequently, because of such simplicity, people found it difficult to recognize God. Moreover, many refused to recognize God’s presence because of its apparently unadorned and simple God’s self-revelation.
Let us look at the Gospel of John, Philip, who had been with Jesus for long, impatiently asked the Lord, “Lord, show us the Father, and that it enough.” As if Jesus was not really enough. With this, Jesus had to be honest to Philip, “You still do not know me, Philip, though I have been with you,” Jesus said.
In a way, we are told that even a close a disciple of Jesus found it difficult to recognize and to be convinced that the Father is in Jesus, and that they are one. Philip must have been expecting a magical revelation or any spectacular manifestation of God’s presence. However, God’s self-revelation was manifested through the person of Jesus, the Word-made-flesh.
In the same way, the Jewish people found it ridiculous as the Apostles preached to them the person of Jesus, as God-made-flesh. Jesus was too ordinary, too simple to be believed as God. Yet, they still found his death and resurrection as offensive or a stumbling block. This was how the people showed insults to Paul.
This happens to us when our hearts also grow tired and weary. When we are overwhelmed with our anxieties and worries of the situation around us. Then, we might be looking for some spectacular thing to happen and for a magic to appear. But then, we might also lose the opportunity of recognizing God, of the revelation of God’s presence in the most ordinary way.
This is the call from the story of the boy looking for God. He found God not in a magical way but through a homeless woman who showed the most beautiful smile he has ever seen. Moreover, the woman also met God in a surprising way, in the person of a boy who showed tremendous generosity to her by sharing his snacks and presence with her on that bench.
Thus, what we are invited today is to see Jesus clearly, to recognize God who is very much involved in our daily life. To see Jesus clearly is to know God dearly. This will help us then, to follow Jesus closely. This is what has been proclaimed to us in the Acts of the Apostles commanded by Jesus, “I have set you as a light, so that you may bring my salvation.”
We are invited to see Jesus in every person no matter how ordinary they may look like, or how familiar or strange they may be to us. It is in this way that we too shall be able to bring light to them. Again, as it was in the story, the boy experienced the light through the person and the smile of the woman. The woman too, experienced the light trough the presence and the generosity showed by the boy to her.
Today, as we continue to live and find our way in this age of the pandemic, this may become an opportunity for us also to see Jesus clearly in the person of our brothers and sisters. May we truly become the light that shines in the darkness through our generosity and kindness to those in need, through our sincere and honest words to people around us, and through the gift of our presence to those who need comfort and a friend. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR