I saw Jesus today. I recognized Him not in the breaking of the bread, as those on their walk to Emmaus did, but in the breaking of the straw from a Christmas Nativity crèche, in the person of a small boy who embodied the heart of Christ. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Cor 3:16
I had an incredibly beautiful experience today, one which I will treasure forever in my heart. I spent the morning and afternoon at a Passionist monastery, first with a beautiful group of fellow Cursillistas at a session of ‘school of leaders,’ and then at our annual Christmas party for the nuns who have given us so much, praying for us and giving us respite from the world and direction for our hearts. I recognized Jesus in all these beautiful souls, from contemplative nuns to mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, husbands, wives and friends…..Soooo many people loving the Jesus they find in each other, and sharing the Jesus they find in themselves.
Once the party was winding down, and our time together was coming to an end, my dear friend and spiritual sister on the journey, Donna, asked me to come to the chapel to pray. We always pray in this chapel, where so much of our spiritual growth and awareness began when we made our Cursillo together in 2004, but this time, we were going to go pray at the manger, in front of the tabernacle.
Well, once we got into the chapel and made our way to the front, we saw a beautiful boy, kindergarten age, praying at the manger. He was alone, while the rest of his group was listening to his brother play Christmas carols on the piano. His eyes were closed, his hands were held palm to palm, just inches away from Jesus in the manger, while his lips moved fervently in prayer. We could not hear what he was saying, but he was absolutely undaunted by our near presence. He just kept praying and praying.
After some time, Donna went and kneeled in front of the tabernacle, while I watched him share his heart with our infant King, waiting to have my own chance to gaze at the manger scene. When he was finished and started to walk away, I could not help myself, I bent down to his level and asked him, ‘Could you do me a favor? Would you pray to Jesus for me, and ask Him to help me sell my house so I can be a sister like the nuns in the other room?’ He nodded in agreement and walked back to the crèche. Again he closed his beautiful eyes, folded his hands in prayer and began speaking inaudibly to Jesus. I do not know what he said to Him, but he spoke for longer than you might expect such a small child to do. And when he was done, he gave me one of the best, most warm, authentic-feeling hugs I have ever had. Donna and I were so moved, we could not help but cry over this beautiful, innocent, God-inspired child, as we moved to a pew and tried to pray. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
Once we left the chapel, I took up a conversation with another friend, standing outside of the doors, and this dear soul came up to us. He had several small pieces of straw, I think three, and he gave one to me, one to my friend, and kept the other for himself. I was again overwhelmed by the generosity of this child, for I am a complete stranger to him, except for the Jesus that we know in each other. When another person came up, he broke the straw he had, divided and shared the pieces among us. And finally, one more time, another person came up, and he broke his last teeny tiny piece, and gave it to the rest of us again. I don’t think he ended up keeping a single piece for himself, although I received three---a larger piece, a smaller piece and a miniscule piece. I will save and treasure them always.
And so I ask myself, why am I so moved by this? And why do I feel as if I have seen this before? And so I contemplate it on my drive home. Of course I am moved by the pure sweetness and charity of this act and the unbridled generosity of this child, but I remember something else, something my friend Donna first reminded me of several years ago regarding the loaves and fishes.
Jesus did not look at the paltry amount of fish and bread he had when it came time to feed a multitude. He simply asked those closest to him to give him what they had -- nothing more, nothing less. And with that, He gave his people their fill, so they were wanting for nothing.
In the same way, it did not matter how many people came into the picture. One bighearted child took what little he had, and made sure everyone was blessed by his kindness. And let me tell you, not only did I have my fill, but my cup overflowed.
His name is Marcus, and he wants to be a priest. What a grace it was to have met this child today, for yesterday, I signed a contract with Century 21 to sell my house, and I am again left wondering what God has planned for me. I must admit that I had about a 10-second moment of abject fear after the realtor left and I comprehended what I had just done, but then my peace returned. My house is all that I have and it is not enough to pay my school loans and remove the obstacles to my entry into the Dominican Monastery. But I met Jesus today, and he gave me my fill.
And now Lord, for what do I wait? You are my only hope. Psalms 39:8