Showing Up

Are you available to reflect God’s presence on a moment’s notice?

Last week a Christian friend mentioned that he was going to Cuba with a Christian group. He said that he wasn’t sure what he would be doing, but then realized that over the years the most important thing he could do was just show up. He said that he found that God’s grace was at work in any given situation or need. It is also at work in us and the people we are with. We just need to be available to bring God’s presence in us to the people and circumstances at hand.

In Isaiah 6, the prophet finds himself in the temple in the presence of God. He immediately becomes aware that he is unworthy to be there, being a man of unclean lips who lives among a people of unclean lips. An angel touches his lips with a live coal taken from the altar and declares that his guilt is taken away. Isaiah then hears the Lord say, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah replies, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” He instructed his disciples to declare that the kingdom of God is at hand. “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons,” he told them. “He who receives you, receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Mt. 9:35; 10:7-8)

Last year I started to volunteer in a local jail ministry and was recently wondering whether what I was doing was contributing much to the ministry. Another volunteer usually led the prayers and arranged for participation by the inmates. About the most I did was take attendance. Then I recalled that the last time I was there, one of the inmates who was about to partake in the sacrament of reconciliation came to me and asked what he should do since he hadn’t been to the sacrament in years. I told him not to worry, that the priest would gently guide him, but he said, “I know there are certain prayers I am supposed to say and I don’t remember them. Would you write them out for me?” So, I wrote out an Act of Contrition for him.

Several minutes later he came back into the room and his face was beaming. I could tell that he had just experienced God’s forgiveness and renewing grace. He thanked me profusely, but I didn’t do anything. Like my friend said, I just showed up. God was already there.

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