Knowing Jesus Christ in Others (from my book ‘A Shepherd’s Voice’, 2007)
Jesus asked His disciples a straightforward question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13) He did this in Caesarea Philippi, a place located in the northern part of Palestine and close to the borders of Gentile territory. Pagan towns surrounded this place. Perhaps, before traces of pagan gods, Jesus challenged His disciples to make an assent of faith. Did they really know the Lord? Was it clear to them Who Jesus was? How firm was their faith in His being God before other gods? It was only Peter who responded with conviction: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16) For this, he was declared Rock in whom Christ would build His Church.
Jesus asks us the same question. How will we respond to Him? Can we respond with firm conviction like Peter? It may be easy for us to profess that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, but how well do we really know Christ? One way to know Christ is to truly experience Him in ‘flesh and blood’. Is this possible today? Yes, through the persons we encounter each day, who have, in actuality, revealed His loving presence.
There is a story of a blind woman who sold flowers by the sidewalk. One day, because of the rush hour, someone accidentally bumped her pail of flowers. The blind woman was at a loss crawling through the sidewalk, attempting to pick up the scattered flowers. Suddenly, a man held the woman by the arms and guided her back to sit on her small chair. The man told her that he had picked up all the flowers and gathered them back in the pail. As the man bade farewell, the blind woman asked: “Are you Jesus Christ?”
Sometimes, when I give spiritual talks, I share how I wish someone would tell me: “I saw Jesus Christ in you.” This would undoubtedly make my day! Wouldn‘t it for you? When someone sees Jesus in you, this is an affirmation that you have been a witness of Christ.
We can gain deep knowledge of Christ when we witness Him in others. One person who has made me know Christ and inspired me in my priestly life is Rhona Cahilum of Negros Occidental (1996). She was a 9-year old girl who saved her three siblings from burning when their house was on fire. She eventually got burned as she carried her last sibling. When Rhona‘s mother arrived at the scene, she saw Rhona‘s burned body, though she was still breathing. She carried Rhona in her arms and walked for hours to bring her to the nearest town hospital. When they arrived, they were rejected because they were poor. Rhona‘s mother, however, did not give up. She went to another hospital which accepted them. Hence, Rhona‘s life was saved.
There are men and women who have lived exemplary lives and have touched our own. The whole point is that knowledge of Christ means knowledge of Christ seen and experienced in others.
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