I Met Jesus Once

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 17 May 2018)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of a loving God.

I met Jesus once in a small church in Browning, Montana.  I didn’t expect him to be dark skinned, round-faced, with long greasy black hair, a Blackfoot Indian.  He squeezed in near to me, though the church was far from filled. He smelled of dirt, and sweat, and booze.  His clothes were ripped and worn, caked with mud. I didn’t expect him to make me so uncomfortable, so nervous, so afraid.  He asked me to pray with him.  I did.

I spoke with Jesus in a kale field in Apopka, Florida.  The sun blazing, a 90-degree day with no shade.  We worked silently side-by-side, eyes fixated on the leafy greens we ripped from the ground.  Then, in broken English, he told me how he had come to this place—his father taken hostage, his family threatened, and violent gangs pushed him from his native home.  With no resource or support or rights or assistance, he worked here, barely making enough to feed his family, while picking food for the rest of the country.  His eyes welled up.  We were the same age.  Our focus returned to the earth.

I’ve seen Jesus on a street corner, holding a sign that read “God Bless You.”  Sometimes I give him a dollar, sometimes…most times, I don’t.  Sometimes I am overcome with sympathy, and heartache, and compassion, sometimes confusion, disgust, and contempt.  Most times, I try not to make eye contact.  I don’t know why.

I pass Jesus in our hallways and he sits in our classrooms.   With our world here at La Salle moving at a drastic pace, it’s easy to miss him.  But if I slow down, I find him—waiting for me in Campus ministry, at a cafeteria table nearest the grotto, in the passion of my colleagues, in the company of a Christian Brother.

I am comforted by his warmth when I hold my nieces, nephews and Godchildren and I suffer his pain wherever my brothers and sisters are denied their human dignity because of the color of their skin, religious beliefs, or creed of their lives.  I feast with him in his grace at my dining room table and hunger with him when others go starving.  I recognize him easily in my friends and family, those whom I love.  I struggle to understand him in my enemies, those I judge and condemn, but should love.

I’ve searched for him on Kairos and in the celebration of the Eucharist and I’ve ran from him in times of weakness towards temptation and indulgence.  Jesus drove me home to Connecticut one cold and dark night in January.  Then he sent me cards, and plants, and well wishes, and food; he visited me in my office when I was most in need.  I’m not sure how I could ever thank him enough for that.

Yes, I met Jesus once!  He wasn’t what I expected, but it’s how I know he lives.  I spoke with him too; it’s how I heard his call and why I listen closely, trying to learn more.  I strive to be like him and because I often fail, my life is filled with challenge.  I experience Jesus all around me, so I trust I am always in his holy presence. I sense him in my life, so I believe.

Let us pray,

Dear Lord, Everything I am today is a gift from you; help me to discover you in that gift.  Everything I can be tomorrow is my gift to myself; help me seek you there.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.

Brian Ciccone–Social Studies Teacher and Assistant Director of Admissions