Monday, January 18, 2010

An Encounter With Jesus

Life Will Never Be The Same

Those who have read my View from the Pew postings lately might have noticed that yesterday's piece ended rather abruptly.  At least, I did.  I wrote it last evening and had not processed all that happened after the homily until after My Dear Wife and I had our evening prayers later on.  So, as Paul Harvey says in his radio broadcasts, "Here's the rest of the story."

I have mentioned that a charismatic gift that I received was the gift of tears, and when my eyes start to well up, I know that something is touching my heart.  At the beginning of mass, just when the introductory song was commencing, I could not sing because there they were, and also my throat choked up.   It just no longer strikes me as weird, so I just get a little more observant, and go with it.

The Church was sort of hot and full yesterday, and so after the homily My Dear Wife had to leave as she was feeling faint.  I waited until after the collection, and then joined her outside to make sure that she was okay.  There is a rock just outside the rear door of the Church and there she was seated.  We remained there through the rest of mass until Communion.

We came in to the back of the communion line, and as I passed the usher, who I recognized from last year, I said "Good morning, Brother."  I know that he is a Knight of Columbus, as I am, so it would be appropriate to address him as a brother Knight.  But, I knew that that was not what I meant, and so it struck me that something was afoot.  When I received the Eucharist, it was a bit more profound than before, and that struck my curiosity as well.

As it was still too stifling for My Dear Wife, we departed the Church.  This time we went straight to our car.  We have never left Mass before the end in our lives that I recall, but we were peaceful. I asked My Dear Wife what we had for dinner, and she said she wanted to go to the Safeway store and pick up some things.  We also never go shopping on Sunday, either.  But when MDW tells me anything now, I listen.  We drove over to W. Irvington, and then down Cardinal to the Safeway at Cardinal and Valencia in the farthest SW corner of Tucson.  We picked up a few things, including a Starbucks each, and then got back in our car.

Heading north on Cardinal, I was focused on driving, but MDW as always, was looking around and noticed something unusual.  She asked me to turn around because she saw a woman who needed some help.  As I turned around, I saw who she meant.  There was a woman staggering down the street, disheveled with her coat hanging part on and part off her shoulders.  My wife got out of our car and approached her.  The woman was disoriented, and largely incoherent, and started to enter the street we had just passed.  My Dear Wife stayed with her talking gently to her, trying to discern the problem.

I had followed along beside them and was blocking the intersection now with our car.  Other cars were at the intersection and impatiently were wanting to get by, so I pulled up and off the road.  One young man with his two young children did pull over, and asked MDW if she wanted him to call the Sherrif, since we were actually on the Pima County side of Cardinal.  She told him that she would appreciate that.

My Love steared her charge over to our car with some difficulty, and opened our door for her to sit down, until help arrived.  When I turned around to look at her, I saw the face of Jesus in her, not literally, but none the less real.  My heart cried out at her brokenness.  This dear child of God, who we found out later was named Jacqueline was in a dirty tee shirt with a blue light jacket on over it.  Her shoes were inexpensive ones with no support.  Her face and arms were dirty, her nails long, and like her hair, unkempt.  There were puke stains on her shirt, and for a moment I was afraid she would throw up in our car.

She was barely coherent, and her eyes rolled back in her head from time to time.  I tried to ask her a couple of questions but had less success than MDW with her.  While My Love spoke with her from outside the car, I went to check with the young man who had stopped.  He had a precious 7 year old daughter in the car, and a nearly two year old  handsome little son as well.  He was a worker on an oil rig in the gulf coast, home between 2 month work shifts.  The 7 year old told me that her birthday was in March, and I told her it was 6 days after mine.  She told me that she was in grade 2 at the school we could see from where we were, and that she would be 8 on her birthday.  I told her that I would be 60 on mine and didn't go to school any more, which was not really true, was it?  School was in session for me at that very moment.

My Dear Wife continued to speak with Jacqueline, and asked her if she would like a cup of coffee.  She then gave her her Starbucks which she took sips of.  After a short while, two deputies from the Pima County Sheriff's Office arrived.  They were very gentle with Jacqueline, and said that they would take her to a shelter nearby.

With that the father and his two children departed and so did we.

I definitely witnessed My Dear Wife being Jesus for Jacqueline, but even more than that Jacqueline was the broken Jesus on the Cross for us.  She had told MDW that she had 14 kids in Nogales, so she is somebody's mother.  She is also somebody's daughter.  But above all, she is Jesus for us all, and the sister of Jesus, as well as the daughter of Our Blessed Mother, and of Our Father.

Last night, as we prayed our evening prayers with special reference to Jacqueline, our prayer became a time of pondering on what we had encountered this day.  I fell even more head over heals in love with My Dear Wife, of course.  How could I not?  But, my heart filled with love for Jacqueline, and while I was awake before sleeping and when I awoke several hours ago, she was in my thoughts and prayers.

I know that Jesus died to set our dear sister free from all that has hurt her and led her to the place that she is at.  But, also I know that if she had not been where she was at, at that exact time and place, we would not have been able to encounter Him in her.

Jacqueline was authentic in her brokenness.  She was not hiding it in fancy clothes, fancy cars, or behind masks.  She was the most real person I have ever encountered.

Father, forgive me for all the Jacquelines that I have passed by in my life, not seeing Your Son Jesus in them and in their sadness, and hurt.  Soften and fill my heart with love for all your children.  Help me to see my own brokenness in them.

Father, I ask that you pour the shed blood of your Son Jesus on our sister, your child Jacqueline and on all the Jacqueline's of this world.  Wash her and them in that blood that flowed on the way to Calvary and on the Cross.

Mother Mary, please wrap your mantle of protection around your daughter Jacqueline and all those like her who are hurting and empty, and intercede on her behalf with Your Son, and Our Father.

Jesus, come to her with your Holy Spirit and open her sad eyes to the Truth of Your Love for her, and that you have already carried all her sorrows to the Cross for her.


Fr. Tim Moyle said...

Michael: As much as I envy you the fact that you have escaped the snow and cold of winter, I can see that you and your wife are most certainly in the place where God wants you to be. Thank you for sharing this story.. and thanks even more for the kindness you brought to Jacqueline. In a world that seems so darkened by indifference and sin, your witness shines!

Fr. Tim

Joshua S. said...

Thank you for sharing that, Michael. It is always transformative to realize all over again how PRESENT is our Saviour Jesus Christ. Every moment of every day, He is THERE - beside you, across from you, just off there to the left...

mbrandon8026 said...

Thank you both for your kind words. The blessings that are coming to us are just delightful.

I have just come from coffee with a dear friend, who I saw at Church after our 9 month absence, and had the opportunity to sit with him and another couple who were a blessing to us last year as well.

God is so very good to us.