Thursday, May 25, 2017
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates God has set by divine authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “People of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Acts 1: 6-11
A Word of Hope
I was tired after a march for immigration reform on a sunny day that had drained me, and I quickly grabbed an open seat waiting for the train downtown. Soon next to me was a gentleman who proceeded to tell me he was advocating for the homeless and he was homeless.
He told me how hard it was to be homeless – how it costs money to stay in shelters. He said it was so hard, he sometimes wished he was back in prison. I sat there listening, unable to move. It wasn’t because I was so tired or because I normally stick around for strangers to tell me such things. In fact, truth be told, I usually move away when a stranger nears. I am not a person to chat up someone I don’t know. But here I was, unable to move.
As the train arrived, I couldn’t help but end the chance encounter hugging him and wishing him well. Again, I don’t do that. Hug a stranger.
As I got on the train, and he smiled and waved, I couldn’t help but have this stunning feeling I had just encountered Jesus. Not up in the sky. But in the flesh next to me at a train stop. Not some fancy person but a homeless person who had been in prison. Someone so human, it could be me. Someone who had made some mistake that landed him in prison. Someone with hopes of a better life, just like me. But with fears, just like me, that things wouldn’t turn out and that he’d end up in prison again. Prisons that don’t need to have physical bars to still be prison.
Jesus, for sure. Right next me. The former prisoner. Homeless. Jesus. The words of Jesus in Matthew 25: 40 brought to life, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
This. What if this is how Jesus returns to us? Not in a cinematic flair of a dramatic cloud descending upon us. What if Jesus… Holy Spirit moves in and around us like a Holy Ghost hard to see. How often do we miss it because we are looking to the sky as promised in Acts instead of how Jesus suggested he’d be with us in the form of the “least of these”?
May we open to see Jesus in the chance encounters of other. May we see the other as only a mirror of Jesus, of ourselves, all one creation.May we open to see Jesus in the chance encounters of other. May we see the other as only a mirror of Jesus, of ourselves, all one creation.