Thursday, December 18, 2014

God is with us – now!

By Jim Lindsay
Executive Director, Catholic Volunteer Network

Christian Appalachian Project summer camp counselors enjoy a weekend of reflection and rest
as they explore Eastern Kentucky.

Jesus informs us that the Son of Man is coming at a time when we least expect him. There are many ways to explain this saying. Let’s begin by posing the question, “When do we least expect him?” It seems to me that the time we least expect him is right now, today.

We have faith that Jesus came long ago as a babe in Bethlehem. We trust that he will appear someday on the clouds of the sky. But, we do not anticipate him to come today to our home, our job or even our church. Therefore, this must be the most probable time and place for us to find him, right here and right now.

Christ House volunteer Rita Lis served as
a Nursing Assistant in Washington, DC.
Let’s admit it; most of our life is ordinary. Only in films, novels or on television are people always experiencing some kind of crisis or excitement. For the most part, for you and me, the story is quite different. We work, eat, sleep and then we get up and start all over again. On weekends there might be a bit of variety - do the laundry, clean the garage, buy groceries and then, for a real change of pace, we might go out to dinner. On Sunday we go to church, and then on Monday morning we get up and start all over again.

This is the true stuff of which life is made. Someone has termed it “blessed monotony.”  I think that is a fitting description of most of our days. If Christ is to be a tangible part of our lives, this is where we must discover him. After all, this is where most people seem to have met him. In the New Testament, the only real spectacular encounter with Christ was the blinding vision that Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. But, that was the exception, not the norm.

Peter and Andrew met him while cleaning their nets beside the Sea of Galilee. For them, that was an ordinary thing, and it was something they did every day. Christ came to them, and they followed him; the rest is history. James and John met Jesus in the same place, on the same day. The woman of Samaria met him while she was at the well drawing water. It was something she did regularly. Matthew met him while working in his tax collecting office, something he did on a daily basis.

That is how people encountered Christ when he walked this earth, and that is where we will find him in our day. We must look for him in the mundane and learn to recognize him there. The challenge is that the Lord travels incognito with his true identity concealed. He is the master of many disguises.

Jonathan Tyler served at the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters' mission in the Dominican Republic
where he taught English to children and adults.
One day, he will show up as an old woman in a wheelchair at a nursing home. Another day, he will be a child wanting someone to read him a book or a patient in the hospital desiring a visit. Another day, he will be a teenager needing encouragement. Today, he might be a single mother wanting a babysitter and tomorrow, a wife craving a hug.

Yes, it is well and good for us to anticipate the coming of Christ at the end of the world or to look back longingly to his coming into this world as a baby. But, in the interim, we can expect him to appear behind some crafty masks. Most days, if we find him at all, it will be in the midst of ordinary living in the people we meet each day.

Amate House volunteer Jackie Fielding served at
Ravenswood Community Child Care Center in
Chicago, providing childcare and mentoring for
teen parents and local families.
For more than fifty years, lay volunteers serving with Catholic Volunteer Network, throughout the U.S. and around the globe, have sought to see Christ in the eyes and feet and hands of those they serve – the poor and oppressed and those on society’s margins. Last year, we helped place more than 22,000 women and men, young and old, single and married, with or without children, in a myriad of sites, where they provided healthcare, education, social services, pastoral ministry and a host of other good works.

As we remember the birth of Christ as a human person, and look forward to his coming again to fully save us, please help us at Catholic Volunteer Network to also see his presence in the everyday needs and wants, the joys and sorrows, of our sisters and brothers across the world. Your support will make a real difference in allowing volunteers to reach out to Christ hidden in the lives of the poor and neglected. This Christmas season, please consider a one-time or recurring gift to Catholic Volunteer Network by visiting our safe and secure site at: https://catholicvolunteernetwork.org/donate

May you experience the presence of Christ in this holy time! Please be in touch with us this new year with your ideas about faith, service, and Catholic Volunteer Network’s role in helping people to see the intersection between the two!

Peace,

Jim Lindsay
Executive Director