Each week on Wednesday, Zenit publishes a reflection by Fr Thomas Rosica on the readings for the upcoming Lord’s Day. His reflection this week was especially illuminating for me. It contained a moving vignette of his personal experience with people who have leprosy. It also contained this profoundly challenging quote from Bd Teresa of Calcutta:
The more disfigured the image of God is in a person, the greater must our faith and our veneration be in our search for the face of Jesus and in our ministry of love for him.
As men, this may be more difficult for us than it is for women. Women are motherly. They are natural nurturers. They ‘welcome’ and ‘accept’ more easily than do men.
But for men it is not impossible. When we receive the Body of Christ, the very love of Jesus comes into us. This supernatural grace frees us to be merciful, generous, welcoming and accepting in ways that normally are not possible for us due to our self-concern and caution. It enables us to be “moved with pity” as was Jesus.
Notice that I said “frees us,” not ‘causes it to happen automatically.’ We still need to cooperate with the grace by directing our free will. Our heart will be ready to act on that grace if it has been prepared by our other spiritual disciplines: prayer, Confession, Sacred Scripture, self-denial, etc. Contemplating the face of Jesus in our daily lives, as we have been encouraged to do by Pope John Paul II, will enable us to see the face of Jesus in those in whom it is least evident.
Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated his face.
— Novo millennio ineunte, n. 16