I recently asked a friend what he’d thought of an event I was sure he’d attended — and at which he’d likely had courtside seats. Whether at a baseball game or a Bruce Springsteen concert, he always managed to sit behind home plate or in the front row. One night at the ballpark, I even saw him on the jumbotron, grinning about 20 feet from the catcher, while I squinted from the nosebleeds.
So I was surprised when he told me that he actually hadn’t made it to the big bash.
Instead, he’d watched it on television with another friend, who wasn’t able to go due to illness.
Knowing that he would have enjoyed the gathering, I’m sure his decision probably caused him a pang. But knowing as well his compassion and loyalty, I also suspect that he wouldn’t have wanted to be anyplace else.
And from a bedside that day, he’d actually journeyed closely with the Lord, simply by being present to someone who needed him.
As Christians, we often talk of “accompaniment” as a ministry. It’s an earnest word, kind of warm and with some heft, and it sounds good in meetings. But the term can quickly become unmoored from the dull, even frustrating realities it often describes — listening attentively when you’re exhausted, giving time and money you don’t really have to spare, resisting the temptation to “fix” others while channeling God’s mercy and kindness to them.
Those tasks are embedded in the moment, which is exactly how we experience life itself; even a single day unfolds in thousands of seconds. Hidden in each is the face of Christ, seeking to be recognized and revered.
Can I find him in the person whose eyes are clouded by addiction?
Do I see him in the one whose religion — or politics, or language, or skin — is unlike mine?
Will I know him if he veils himself in poverty or loneliness or mental illness?
And if he takes refuge among the silent and “insignificant” of this earth, will I discern him there?
How often I strain my eyes for a Savior over whom I stumble: he is in those I love the least.
Yet if I am willing to slow my steps to meet him here, now — in whatever way he reveals himself — I might, like my friend, be quite far from the stage, but I’ll have the best seat in the house, with a view to heaven itself.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103