“Are you Jesus?” It is a question I get asked on occasion, most often because of the Franciscan habit that I wear. Lots of times the question comes from small children. Their picture books show Jesus in his robes and then they see me. I suspect the question is more about my Franciscan robes. Maybe on my good days it is about me. Maybe, just maybe there was a moment when I was Jesus for them.
The question is also asked at the hospital. Much of the time when we are called out in the middle of the night for “last rites” the patient is intubated and not conscious. But sometimes the patient is still with us. You can imagine the scene: The person, knowing death is near, has turned their thoughts to life after death. I enter the darkened room with the light shining from behind me, interrupting their silent prayer and thought; what they see is the outline of the One to whom they have been praying. “Are you Jesus?” In that moment, in the name of the Church, perhaps I am – or at least the presence of Christ as I bring the community’s final prayer and viaticum – the Holy Eucharist for the final journey home.
As we will express in the Eucharist Prayer – “Lord I am not worthy, but only say the word and my soul will be healed” Certainly, I am not worthy to have anyone ask, “Are you Jesus,” but you know what? The Word has been said. It was said in the Gospels when we were told we are loved, when we are told to go to the ends of the earth: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). A loving missionary came to our end of the earth, bringing the Good News of Jesus, and opening up for us the waters of baptism and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In our baptism, the Word was said telling us that we were welcomed into His holy people and “He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.” May we live always as a member of his body.
Because the disciple, the missionary came, we who were not worthy, are not only made worthy, we are given new life. And what will we do with this new life? Try and be Jesus? That is a pay grade way above me, but you know what? We are members of his body. Like St. Paul says in the second reading: “For in one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body.” No one of us alone is the body complete. Just as our bodies have many parts – eyes, ears, nose, lips, hands, feet, knees, and more – and all each part can do is to share its particular gifts and talents. But together, we are awesome, a well oiled machine, called to fulfill the Word that has been spoken – and to find our own particular “end of the earth.”
Maybe that end is at the end of the hallway, the end of the block, the end of an email, the end of a Facebook post, the end of a phone call, at the end of a handshake – at the end of a voice that welcomes and invites. The voice that welcomes one home, in from the cold, to join, be part of us, to help make us complete. “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” All the parts together are one body, so also Christ. It seems to me that if we truly want to worthily answer the question, “Are you Jesus,” then we need to be one body – and we are missing some parts.
St. Paul tells us “the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” There are people out there who suffer, who search, and who are seeking answers, wholeness, completeness, forgiveness, and more. There are people in here who already share the joy of Jesus – and who have been baptized, commissioned, and made worthy to carry the hopeful and healing Word out there. We are called to be missionary for the ultimate win-win mission: to share our joy by inviting others – and to make ourselves complete that we can truly be Body of Christ.
So…. where are we so far?
- We are not worthy, but the Word has been spoken
- We are baptized, sharing in the mission and ministry of Jesus
- We are each unique parts of the one Body of Christ – each adding our unique gifts to the Body
- We are called to go to the ends of the Earth
- We are joyful because we are graced, yet we suffer because others suffer and we are incomplete
- We are missionaries tasked with calling home all the missing parts of the one Body of Christ that we may be complete – and they may know peace, forgiveness, healing, joy and more
Ok folks… the mission is clear. Time to suit up and go find that end of the earth. Here is what you will need to complete you mission. A prayer, a deep breath, the grace of God – and the card you will find in your pew inviting people to our “Awakening Faith” program. All you have to do is take that card to the end of the hallway, the block, an email, a phone call, a handshake – be the voice that welcomes and invites. The Holy Spirit can take over from there.
Folks, there are people out there who have a question they don’t know how to ask, are seeking a road to a home they don’t yet know, and have an itch they can not scratch. That card at the end of the pew is the back-scratcher, the road, and the answer to their question.
And, they are the answer to our question.
Are you Jesus? Almost…we need you to help us be the Body of Christ.