Note: this meditation was inspired by our visit to the Mount of Beatitudes a few days ago.
Today we went to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus preached the sermon on the mount to many of his disciples. Upon arriving at the church on site, there was a painting depicting Jesus preaching. I was struck by how intently each person was looking at him.
I was praying outside looking at the Sea of Galilee when a group of college-aged students began chatting amongst themselves. It was clear they didn’t know much about Christianity and they didn’t have much reverence for it based on their topics of conversation.
Rather than being annoyed as would be my typical reaction, I was sad thinking, “Lord, they maybe don’t even know you. But that’s not their fault. Should I say something?” I kind of thought yes was the answer, but no clear indication was given regarding what I should say. I felt I needed to say something about Jesus, but I didn’t want to awkwardly lead with that. So I just said to myself, “what the heck. I’ll just ask them who they are and where they’re from.”
It began with just a few students asking me some questions about seminary and studying to be a priest, but at a certain point one asked, “What made you want to become a priest?” Surprised, I thought, “Here we go!” And I told my story.
At a certain point I looked around me and found that people were actually paying attention to me! Wow, people actually listen! Then I thought of the image I had just seen and realized I was experiencing the same thing as Jesus; they were looking intently at me. It was a real gift from God to have that image fulfilled in “my preaching.” What’s more, Afterwards the one who asked me the question said, “the same things have been happening to me… what do you think is the next step if I think I am called to the priesthood?” What a grace God gave both as a gift to me and to those who were there to hear God’s action in my life.