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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

SEE CHRIST IN EVERYONE YOU MEET!

by Susan Fox

"The greatest poverty is no love!" (Mother Teresa of Calcutta) 

See and Serve the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ in everyone you meet.

Who would believe that such an innocuous statement could be so controversial to a Christian!

The Bible states clearly, Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matt 25:40)

For Catholics, the witness of the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta is enough to believe the axiom that Christ is among us in the distressing disguise of the poor -- waiting to be loved.  

Pope Francis hugs Vinicio Riva
Pope Francis continues her witness. On Nov. 6, 2013, he hugged and rubbed the head of a man disfigured by neurofibromatosis. “I felt like I was in paradise. My heart was bursting,” said Vinicio Riva, 53, describing what happened when the pope hugged him. He was impressed that the pope didn’t hesitate to touch him, something his own father is reluctant to do.

But such actions were very firmly challenged by a Bible-believing Christian businessman I met online, who argued vehemently that we could not see Christ in others until they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior!

Did Vincenza Riva already accept Christ as His Lord and Savior? If not, the pope must have made a grave mistake in embracing him!

The Christian businessman rightfully said we have to make judgements. Paul and Timothy had to judge, silence and rebuke Hymenaeus and Philetus because they denied the resurrection, a heresy. (2Timothy 2: 14-19) No, we didn’t disagree on that at all.

But when it came to the man dressed as a woman who came to his church, he steadfastly refused to see Christ in that man because clearly he wasn’t saved yet.  

But how will the man, who self-identifies as homosexual, ever receive Christ -- if Christians continue to look at him like there is something wrong with him? Would you convert to Christianity if everyone at Church treated you like a pariah?

I ended up pleading for the man dressed as a woman: “Please love that "gay" man,” I wrote. “By this I mean, use a kind word, look him in the eye. (I don't mean that you should imply at any point that his lifestyle is okay.)”

“When you face Jesus Christ at the pearly gates that's what He'll ask you about -- how you treated that man. That man is Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor. Poor doesn't mean poor in material means. Poor in this case means unloved. But his dress is telling you he wants desperately to be loved. And how we treat men like that depends on whether Christ will label us sheep or goats at the judgment. The goats get kicked to hell. The sheep go to heaven. And the sheep are the ones who use kind words to the unloved in this life," I wrote online. They also hug men with neurofibromatosis.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta said the greatest poverty is no love. And the modern world -- seemingly so rich in material goods -- is very much afflicted with that kind of poverty.   

Actually, what the Christian man and I were arguing about was a very subtle distinction in Scripture. This is one of the many precautions that Jesus gave us to prevent sin: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7: 2-5)

And then there’s the way He taught us to pray:
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Doesn’t that mean we in justice cannot expect forgiveness unless we forgive others, maybe even for their way of life?

Yet there are numerous examples of judging in the Bible. Timothy, Paul and Titus threw people out of the early Church for transgressions like living with your father's wife, and speaking heresy.

And we certainly don’t want to devolve into relativists --  people who think there is no right and wrong.  Why and when is it okay to judge?


“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:43-45)

So we can judge, not the man, but his fruits. We can look at his works and his dress, and come to a conclusion about his actions. We still see the Person of Christ in his face, but when my Christian friend faced the issue of which bathroom to let him use, he objectively knew he could not use the men’s or the women’s room unless it is empty. Now a judgment has been made based on the man’s fruits. He is dressed as a woman. Lovingly escort him to any restroom – just get everyone else out.

When my Christian friend faced this dilemma, instead of disliking the "gay" man, he prayed for him. So I said, “You did see and serve the Person of Christ in that gay man. You prayed for him! Good job.” 

One time I was checking into a hotel, and I was too tired to look at the person who was checking me in, but I noticed his arm was that of an elderly man. So I finished the paperwork he had given me, and I said, "God bless you, Sirrrrrr!" That is, it was like a wind blew through me and said the word "Sir" very drawn out. It identified the man as a man. I didn't intend to do that. But after that happened, I noticed the man was wearing a dress and had a blond ponytail. For some reason, God chose me to recall the man to his actual identity.

The next couple of days when I saw him, and he saw me, he was very nervous, bounced up and down and talked non-stop. The Holy Spirit had corrected him, but I continued to see and serve the Person of Christ in that man. I didn't think "evil man." Instead I turned to God and prayed for him, just like my Christian friend did. My online friend’s response was a good Christian one. Love the sinner. Hate the sin. 



This topic is vitally important to my friend because he is a Christian businessman. “How do you think you can sell goods or wait on people if you have to make a judgment every time you meet someone as to their spiritual worthiness?” I asked.

My mother supported us as I was growing up because my father was dead when I was four. She worked in real estate and later sold appliances. She actually made a point of seeing the Person of Christ in those she met. This was evident in her voice, her manner and her concern for their needs. As a result, her sales rate was higher than anyone else's in the office.  



Now I learned this lesson in 30 years of doing door-to-door evangelization. One time, I forgot I had to see the Person of Christ in the person opening the door, and a man wearing a satan T-Shirt with no shoes opened the door. I looked down at his feet, and then up at his T-shirt. Big mistake! I could see him literally close the door of his heart. He would have nothing to do with Jesus Christ because His representative  -- little me -- forgot to look in his face and see Christ.

A priest friend of mine visited a man on death row in prison. This man spit in his face. He wanted nothing to do with the priest. Father had a short temper, but he said, "God bless you,"  left and went home. Discussing the matter with God later, God convinced him to return and reveal to the serial killer the one good thing he had done in his life. And this thing was something no one could know but God.

So Father returned and reminded the man that when he was 9 years old, he had shared his sweet with another child. Now this was India. People were very poor. And children rarely got their hands on a dessert item; so sharing such a thing was really marvelous. The serial killer began crying. He repented of his sins.  God sees differently than we do. He didn’t want the priest to remind the man of all the people he killed, he wanted the priest to remind the man of his goodness. 

One always sees Jesus Christ as offering His Sacred Heart to us in love. So I and many other Christians, including St. Catherine of Sienna,  have asked God to exchange our hearts for Jesus’ Heart so we can love like He does.


The story of the serial killer taught me to see with the eyes of God the Father. In the Book of Genesis, every thing He created, He seemed to pause and look at it after it was made: “And God saw that it was good.” This phrase is repeated through all the steps of creation. So if we stop and look with the Father’s eyes at each person, we will see what good God has done in his soul. This look of love – coming from a Christian -- is an invitation to know Christ.

I reminded my Christian businessman that St. Martin of Tours was a soldier, and not a Christian, when he encountered a naked beggar by the side of the road. He had not yet accepted Jesus as His Lord and Savior as defined by Protestants. But could we fail to see Christ in Martin before his conversion? He took his sword and cut his cloak in two, giving half to the shivering man. That night Christ appeared to him as a beggar wearing the other half of Martin's cloak, and Martin believed in Christ and was baptized.

Then Pope Francis meets and hugs Vinicio Riva in St. Peter’s Square. “I’m not contagious, but (the pope) didn’t know that. But he did it, period: he caressed my whole face and while he was doing it, I only felt love. First, I kissed his hand, while he caressed my head and wounds with his other hand,” Vinicio said.


“Then he pulled me toward him, hugging me tight and kissing my face. My head was against his chest and his arms were wrapped around me. He held me so tightly, cuddling me, and he didn’t let go. I tried to speak, to say something, but I wasn’t able to: I was too choked up. It lasted just a little more than a minute, but, for me, it seemed like forever. The pope’s hands are so soft. Soft and beautiful. And his smile (is) bright and wide.”

Meeting the pope was a transforming experience for Vinicio Riva. That's what I love about Pope Francis. He does see and serve the Person of Jesus Christ in the little people.  

Jesus said, "Go preach the gospel to all nations." Sometimes, for the gospel to be preached, all that is required is a look of love. 

7 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful post. Pope John Paul II spoke of the only thing worthy of the human person is love. Had God approached us like this bible-believer claims we should approach others, we would never had the Messiah come down; we would never be offered a chance to repent. It seems like this poor fellow is suffering from some strange version of Calvinism. It also makes us recall how reading the Bible without the Mind of the Church can lead to damnation. Satan has been twisting texts to drag souls into hell for day one ....

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  2. Dear Ma'am Susan,
    It's been a spiritual treat to go this article of yours. I'm sure it'll help me to apply the brakes when I look only at the exterior appearances & lifestyles of certain people I've been detesting. Please pray for me that I too may learn to see the presence of Jesus....I'll work on this area of my life with God's grace and precious prayers from people of goodwill. I'll make this renewed effort of personal conversion as my Christmas gift to Our Lord. I have a long way to go. The picture of Our Holy Father embracing Vinicio Reva always appealed to me. After reading this article it's taken on a much higher place in my esteem and reverence and allegiance to Pope Francis, who really leads by example. I've been attracted and inspired by Mother Teresa since my childhood. She's a role model. The way she put her faith in action is beyond compare. Through her intercession may I too reach out to the unloved....
    In the flesh, as Pope Francis often says. With God's grace I hope to grow in charity.
    God bless you for your efforts to evangelize.
    Warm regards and prayers
    Edwin Rodrigues

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  3. Just as I posted my comment I received the following content from UCAN! This is not a co incidence.Mother Teresa was praying for me...as she does for everyone....But I take it as a sign that she'll help me in my new effort...here's the content


    InternationalNationalStates

    Top Stories



    Mother Teresa's path to sainthood cleared

    5:52 PM, December 20, 2015

    India(Delhi):Pope Francis approves second miracle.



    Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II in Kolkata on Feb. 3, 1986. Pope Francis has recognized a second miracle attributed to the late Mother Teresa, clearing the path for her to be elevated to sainthood. (Photo by Jean-Claude Delmas/AFP)

    Pope Francis has approved a second miracle attributed to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, clearing her path to sainthood.

    "It's a great blessing from God for the church and country as she was a true reflection of God's mercy and compassion to countless destitute people around the world," said Archbishop Anil J. Couto of Delhi.

    Her canonization will bring hope and joy to everyone who dedicates oneself to the service of the poor, he added.

    There was much joy at the motherhouse in Kolkata, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity congregation that Blessed Teresa founded.

    "We are so happy with the news. All the sisters at the Missionaries of Charity are rejoicing and we are grateful to God," Sister Lynn Mascarenhas, vice postulator for the cause of Blessed Teresa, told ucanews.com.

    According to a Vatican statement, Francis on Dec. 18 authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to proclaim the decree concerning the miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Mother Teresa.

    News reports said that Blessed Teresa's canonization is expected in September to coincide with the anniversary of her death. Her feast day is Sept 5, which falls on a Monday in 2016. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service in November that the canonization would not take place on a Monday.

    The second miracle that cleared her path for sainthood was the recovery of a Brazilian man from multiple brain tumors.

    Blessed Teresa was born in Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia. She came to India in 1929 as a novice with the Loreto nuns. She left the congregation in the late 1940s and started the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

    Blessed Teresa died of cardiac arrest at the motherhouse on Sept. 5, 1997. Her canonization process began two years afterward. Pope John Paul II beatified her in October 2003.

    Her tomb at the Missionaries of Charity's headquarters has become a pilgrimage center.

    Throngs of visitors come to see the tomb throughout the year, except on Thursdays, when the nuns spend the day in prayer.

    In 2005, retired Archbishop Henry D'Souza of Calcutta said Blessed Teresa "fell in love with God and in that love she spent her whole life." Love, he added, "is the greatest of all virtues."

    According to the archbishop, who initiated Blessed Teresa's canonization cause, the late nun's initial letters from India to her relatives back home spoke of her difficulties in adjusting to the heat and conditions in this country.

    However, she overcame the pain and sufferings after "she fell in love with Jesus," the archbishop said, citing a portion from one of those letters: "All these difficulties are easy for me as Jesus and I are in love with each other."

    The Missionaries of Charity congregation has 5,044 nuns in 768 houses, 515 of them overseas and 243 in India.

    Source: UCAN

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  4. Link
    https://twitter.com/ucanindia/status/678078957846065153

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  5. Here's the link
    https://twitter.com/ucanindia/status/678078957846065153
    Kindly amalgamate it with the comment if possible.

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  6. Susan,all that was written was beautiful. For The Heart of Christ, there is so much beyond what we can fully understand. We must pray for the "Light" to enter us. In all honesty, It is difficult ,very difficult to forgive for an example; Isis. For me I do as Jesus said, I give what I can not do in prayer to Jesus. Yes the constant rape & horrific murders.These radicals Christ came in contact also, these people wanted to kill him then. It was'nt time, & He fled. I want to be in the Arms of Christ for this burden to be light. Yes I love. I love all But, not SatN & this is Satanic. Satan is here on this earth. We must know this. So very many people to genuinely love, The ill, dying, suffering, every one we see or meet. And it is everyone. For all else we must pray & pray in earnest. The Sacred Heart of Jesus will guide us away from our "enemy"; Satan. Oh how I love Jesus, His too terrible a death to save us is so hard to know of. Yes we are lived, and so we love. As Christ warned put on the whole armour of God. Yes we need protection from Satan. I love that Jesus wants so much to protect us. Thank you Jesus.Ivory snow3567

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  7. Your hotel story is interesting. God put you there to remind him of who he was. One time I was going to San Francisco street festival and had to pass through gate where transvestite was soliciting money for AIDS. I game the guy a $1.00 and he thanked me with in a feminine mincing manner. I absentmindedly replied "You are welcome, sir". He winced visibly. Deep down he knew he is a man.

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