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“Rubbing shoulders with”….

Rubbing shoulders with… “to meet and talk to important or inspirational people.”

Most people like to meet and talk to important or famous people. Sometimes it is because they want something. Other times it just because they respect that person so much.

For believers it is not much different. We hope to be healed or learn from the important figures in our traditions. Just think of how the people longed to be in Jesus’ company and to touch him.

Is there anyone who had not seen images of Pope Francis and people longing to be in his presence and touch him. They hope to be inspired by being so close to him. Or they seek to touch the hem of his cloak for that special blessing from his presence. (Is that why relics are so important?)

Jesus the Body of Christ Today

Sometimes we may fantasize about being in the crowd listening to Jesus preaching. Other times we long to touch the hem of his garment for healing. For whatever reason, the presence of Christ means so much to us. 

That is why it is all the more painful in this time of pandemic. Our access to the Body of Christ is restricted. We cannot “touch” or be touched by the Body of Christ.

Is our concept of “rubbing shoulders’ with Christ too small?

We at times have a limited understanding of “real presence”. We are not unlike Mary, not recognizing him as a gardener. Or Saul, until he heard the words “Why are you persecuting me”. He did not immediately realize he was actually hunting down, seeking to harm, the person of Christ.

It may sound harsh at first but sometimes the “real presence” of the body of Christ in our churches gets in the way of recognizing his “real presence” in those we rub shoulders with.

What if we really understood what Jesus said.  “Where two or three are gathered in my name…”, “I will be with you always.” “Whatever you do to the least of my sisters and brothers”, “why are you persecuting (discriminating against) me?

It would change our understanding of rubbing shoulders with Jesus today. We would recognize we rub shoulders with Christ everyday in everyone we meet.

St. John Chrysostom’s words in the fourth century would become real for us. “Do you wish to honor the Body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked.”

Rubbing Shoulders with Christ today

When Vincent put his hands in the wounds in his day, he realized he was touching the body of Christ.

We have a tendency to think only of the risen Body of Christ 2000 years ago. We are afraid to look at the body of Christ broken and before our eyes.

Listen to the way Pope Francis describes the wounds of the body of Christ today…

And now it’s our job to touch the wounds caused by homelessness, poverty, white supremacy, global capitalism, climate change, the separation of children from their parents at the border, and gentrification—and believe the future can be different.

.. when I come close to suffering and actually sink my hands into the wounds of this world, I am transformed. I am renewed and come to have hope in a different world, one where the reign of God is made manifest right before my eyes. May you go and do likewise.

 Is this a repeat of “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” (John 6:60)

To rub shoulders with Jesus today is to put our hands into his wounds in those we rub shoulders with.

Is this a hard saying that we will walk away from?

Seeking to encounter Christ

  • When have I not recognized the risen Christ because I did not expect him as a “gardener”?
  • Do I ever think that I am in the presence of Jesus when I am with someone, especially the least of his brothers and sisters?
  • What can I do to foster my awareness of the presence of God in the people I encounter?

Click below for an audio version of this Mindwalk

Rubbing Shoulders With jesus
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