Who do you see?
It’s an easy question, when you are looking merely with you eyes. But often we keep our eyes at least partially closed, remaining blind to the things that lie beneath the surface.
Often I think I do this because it’s simply too much of a bother to do otherwise. If I really look at someone, I just might have to get involved. I may have to take their needs, their hurts into account and decide what role I might wish to play in their healing.
But the truth is such that it is in fact easier to BE bothered than not to be. God’s saving power lies in this fact that we can see the great power that we have in simple acts that we do with great love.
Nobody expects us to turn everyone’s life around in an instant with one giant act of kindness. Our tendency towards instant gratification leads us down that path to think that each act needs to be one of grandiosity or it doesn’t matter.
My colleague, Campus Minister, Mary Matunis, once told me a story that a young man came up to her at an alumni event and said, “MARY! Oh my God it is amazing to see you. You told me something my sophomore year that CHANGED MY LIFE!”
Mary was shocked and honored and so she asked, “Really, thanks! What did I say?”
To which the young man replied, “I don’t remember! BUT IT CHANGED MY LIFE!”
And the truth is that it likely did—and it was likely something simple that turned around a bad period in that person’s life by offering a different perspective. And in that, lies the saving power of God.
Mary was able to see that young man and she also allowed herself to be bothered by him. She doesn’t even remember this, but it seems to have been a moment that helped this person find meaning for a moment.
Each day we are presented with moments. The key to each one is finding God lurking within each one to allow us to bother with them. To be just a touch kinder, just a second more patient, just a moment of gentle listening, just a second more present.
But the bigger challenge might also be our willingness to let others see us in our own vulnerability.
John the Baptist reminds us of this. How many people came to him to simply let him see them in all their sinfulness, to be baptized, to find, through John, the saving power of God’s sacramental love. How many, would come to see John later and perhaps told him that he changed their life!
And much like my friend Mary, perhaps John dampened that experience by pointing not to himself, but to Jesus. Who offers salvation to us, if we merely allow ourselves to be seen in all our vulnerability. And then because of that saving love, we too, are called to see others and offer our own mercy. To see them with a new perspective, to restore dignity to those who are alienated.
To see and to be seen so that the world might see, through us, the saving power of God.