Meet Me Where I’m At….

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As I read today’s Gospel, I tried to envision any message other than the obvious: “Blessed are those who have not seen, but believe”. Not that that message is unimportant! Spoken to Thomas, it is a “laser beam” directed at all of us!

I love the fact that Jesus met Thomas right where he was. There was no rebuke to one of His chosen followers for not believing any of the predictions Jesus Himself gave or for not believing “his brothers” with whom he had eaten, slept and prayed for the better part of the previous three years.

Thomas needed to see, he needed to touch the wounds of Our Lord and this is exactly what Jesus gave him. “Here I am. Thomas, Go ahead and touch my wounds!”

It made me stop and think :Do I meet others where they are? Do I watch and listen to them to try to see what they really need? Or do I jump in and try to give them what I think they need. There are many applications of this, but since our Holy Father is proclaiming “Evangelization” as a true goal of the Church and the Gospel is about faith, I’m going to direct the topic to Evangelization.

First, we need to look at what the person needs. Are his physical and mental needs being met? They need to be before we can work on his spiritual needs? We can’t very well proclaim the love of Jesus Christ if the person is homeless, without food and clothing to keep him warm. St. James in his letter addresses this when he writes about Faith and works. “What good is it to say ‘Good bye and good luck! Keep warm and well fed’, but we do not meet their bodily needs?” We must provide their basic needs and while doing so, we begin proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ!

As we evangelize, we must meet people where they are at. Do they lack knowledge of Jesus Christ Himself? Have they had an argument with a priest or have they felt unwelcomed when they come to Mass, and consequently left the Church? Has their lifestyle prevented them from receiving the sacraments? Were they merely lazy–too lazy to come to Mass and gradually they just drifted away? In doing my hospital ministry for 20 years, I’ve met every one of these scenarios. Some people left before Vatican II and have no idea that the attitude of the Church has changed. We need to meet people where they’re at and help them to see the love and peace that only Christ can bring. We need to encourage, and support any gesture to have them return to the sacraments.

Today, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Both of these men really tried to evangelize and bring all men and women closer to Our Lord: John XXIII, by way of Vatican II tried to make the Church more open to the gifts of the laity. John Paul II continued this, but with modern day travel, he went to the people. He brought the Face of God to the people. (Records show that as of now, he is our most traveled Pope).

In the upper room, more than two thousand years ago, Jesus began the commissioning of His disciples–to proclaim His Kingdom to the world. May we believe in the resurrected Jesus as firmly as those apostles did and carry that commissioning throughout the generations and the world.

Linda Caminiti