Open Your Heart to Christ
(4-part series on the graces of serving Christ in our brothers and sisters)
1) "Awe and Wonder in God's Presence" (1 of 4)
Whenever you spend time serving Jesus in your brothers and sisters, especially in those who are most in need, God confers a multitude of graces upon your soul. What are some of these graces? (there are certainly many more than these)
a) Awe and wonder in God's Presence in your brother or sister
b) Greater reverence and love for every person created in God's divine image and likeness
c) Reception of blessings from the pure vessel of a poor and empty heart
d) The priceless opportunity to give yourself to God in others by humble charity.
Christian ministry to Christ in the poor (cf. Matthew 25: "whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to me") is not just a secularized humanitarian form of service. It is rather a whole-hearted embrace of the Presence of the Lord dwelling within people, and of persons themselves for Christ's sake. This first involves acknowledging with the eyes of faith that your sister or brother is one of your own kin, part of your family (the one human family), and part of GOD'S Family.
Your neighbor is "a presence of Christ" on earth, and so after your own relationship to God in prayer we are called to a very important "being with" our brethren in a spirit of grateful solidarity, selflessness, and availability. This includes spending time with people, smiling and welcoming them, making them feel "at home" with you, being present to them, listening attentively to them and *their* "love story" with God (including the trials!), learning more about them and how God is alive and working in their life, affirming them in their humanity as they are now with all their shortcomings and failures, and encouraging and challenging them forward toward ever greater union with the Lord in humble, joyful love.
For whenever we truly encounter another person in love, Christ encounters us through them, and so we also encounter Christ in a new and deeper way.
+Br. Philip Maria Allen, CFR
St. Felix Friary
Yonkers, NY, USA
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