We are sitting in a bar on a hot summer day. I stare at my dejected feet on the bar stool, then out the door at the hot day, the burning sidewalk, the occasional overheated human being passing by.
I don’t want to look at him, though I am relieved by his presence. I glance sideways at his calloused elbow resting on the dark, scratched wood of the bar; noticing, too, a scrape on his for arm. He always has at least one.
“Shawn, look at me. Can you look at me?”
I knew he was going to say that.
Reluctantly I look up to his face,
and am captivated
I am captivated because when one looks at Jesus, even without seeing, one knows by faith, apprehends by love, the radiant beauty of his features, the dark loveliness of his eyes, the gentle tenderness of his smile, the silent fire of his gaze, that comes from who he is.
Maybe the strangest thing about this looking at Jesus is seeing one’s own reflection. Stranger still is how different one looks reflected in the pupils of such eyes as these.
Jesus asked the Twelve: “Who do people say that I am?”
He listened to the various answers; all of them incomplete at best, though understandable.
Then he asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”
I am going to stop right there. I am stopping because it is easy, seemingly, for me to answer, with all my heart, at one with Peter, “You are the Messiah, Son of the living God.” I know this to the depths of my soul. It is the guiding truth of my life: Jesus is Lord.
But today I have a question. I have this question because my heart is broken, forsaken, wounded, my life in ruins, and I have lost something in my suffering and dismay; something almost as important to my existence as who this Lord is who has captivated me and will for all eternity.
“Jesus,” I ask, “Who do you say that I am?”
What happens when you ask this question of the Lord?
What has happened for me is that he has been answering me in different ways ever since I asked; in verses from Scripture that show up at mass or in the Liturgy of the Hours, or that quietly come to mind as I pray or go about my day:
“You are sacred to me.”
You are “…beloved of God and called to holiness.”
“…a new name pronounced by the mouth of the Lord… a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord, a royal diadem held by your God.”
“… light of the world…. salt of the earth.”
He has seemed to send the right song into my day at the right moment, drawing my attention to it, speaking straight to my heart.
He has sent unlooked-for love into my life and increased the strength of my soul.
He has brought me to understand that each of us are, on a certain level, and in a very real way, all the things he is, because he shares them with us and lives in us. We even share in his very being and his place in the Father’s Heart.
We reflect him. He reflects us back to ourselves.
And when we look at this Light of the World,
this Way, Gate, Shepherd, Truth, Bread from Heaven,
Life and Love itself – he who is gentle and humble of heart,
we are looking, Christian soul,
When we see ourselves in his eyes, his yoke becomes easy and his burden, even the cross, becomes light. He shows us who we are to him, and we are filled with his grace. Perhaps we can go forward after all, once we know who we are in the Lord, doing all things in him who strengthens us.
Maybe, even, we shine with glory from the inside as we make our way through the elements of this world, with our eyes fixed on him whom we radiate.
” I will give to each one… a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” ~ see Rev. 1:17b
*A song that came at the right time.