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Friday, 24 October 2014

Seeing Christ in Others

For centuries, the Church has taught us to see Christ in other people. Perhaps more than any other reality, this perspective seems more difficult than other teachings, and almost impossible.

What does it really mean to see Christ in others?

I would like to start from a different place and that is within myself.

One cannot see Christ in other people until one sees Christ within one's own self. We recognize Him.

We become like Christ through purification and suffering. We begin to put on the Mind of Christ at baptism, and if our parents and teachers form us correctly, we begin to think like Catholics, and, therefore, like Christ. This is a process of grace.

Until we see ourselves as in and with Christ, we cannot see Christ in others.

Example: Our Lady at the Annunciation was perplexed at Gabriel's message not because she doubted her call, but because she knew that Joseph could not be the father. And, she had the Mind of God to see that this promised Child could not have a normal human father. So, how could this all come about? Gabriel had the answer. Mary then understood how Christ would come within her womb, through the Holy Spirit.

The Pope Emeritus writes something similar in the last book on Jesus of Nazareth. He states that Mary understood that God had power over matter, that God could intervene. This comment of Benedict's made me think more on this event. This meditation is an extrapolation from Benedict's insight.

from Luke 1:
26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.
33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?
35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Mary's question reveals that she was seeing things from God's perspective because she knew God so intimately that she could think in terms of miracles. God's love in her already responded to God's call to be the Theotokos. The Messiah had to be Divine. Mary knew not man, but she knew God, in the normal, as well as Biblical use of the term knowledge.

Her Immaculate Conception means that she was formed in the womb to think in terms of God's laws, God's ways.

She walked with God her entire life. She saw the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in herself and could say "yes" to God rather quickly in obedience and humility. God came to her, but she also reached out to God in her yes.

She could envision Christ the Messiah, God's Own Son, within her. Her "fiat" was a "yes" to a reality she could understand as she knew already she was in and with God. This is why she is, absolutely, the Co-Redemptorix.

If we see Christ's grace in us and His love, we then can see Him in others. Mary' "yes" is an "of course".

No problem--as Mary saw God in herself, she could see Christ in the womb, in the world.

This perspective comes with the formation of the mind, memory, understanding and will.

If I know Christ dwells in me, I know He dwells in others.

The love which Christ gives to us spills out to others and we see Him in others.


Mostly we see the suffering Christ in others. Today, I saw a beggar in a wheelchair. Now, Malta takes good care of the poor, the homeless, the suffering. To see a beggar is a rare phenomenon.

I did not "see" a human being who had fallen outside the normal means of care here. I saw a human being struggling with his own status as a child of God. He was not merely abandoned by the system, but by himself, by his parents. He was, at least at that moment, "God-less".

Christ on the Cross cried out, as we read in Matthew 27, 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

That is the Christ I saw in the wheelchair today.  I could also experience Christ suffering in me, as I could not help this person, barely having enough money for lunch today myself. I had to suffer not being able to help, seeing someone suffering and me not being able to "fix" the situation is also experiencing Christ in that very young man. 

I cannot stop Christ's suffering. 

I can pray and join my suffering with that person. So, Christ joined Himself to all the suffering and sin of all men and women of all time.

I saw the abandoned Christ, and I felt Christ's pain as He suffered in Gethsemane, knowing some would not love Him, ever. In Europe, one sees children who have been purposely deformed by their parents in order to beg. I have seen this in Ireland and in Malta. I have seen the suffering Christ in these young beggars. This beggar was so deformed.  He is the Christ of the Passion.

But, I can only love others and see Christ in others if I see Christ in myself.  If I see Christ suffering in and with me, I can see Him in others.

Putting on the Mind of Christ means thinking and responding as Christ would. But, it also means putting one's self in and with Christ in and with another person.

In other words, when we identify with the other person, we see Christ. If we cannot love, we cannot see Christ.

We are all one in Christ. 

Those who reject Christ reject themselves. If one cannot see Christ in others, one must go back to prayer and beg God for love. He will answer that prayer. To see Christ in others is to recognize Him within one's own self through grace.