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Encountering Christ in the moment


A beautiful and inspiring friend of mine passed away suddenly earlier this year, leaving behind her husband and three school-aged children. They miss her dearly and, as we approach Christmas, feel her loss more deeply.

Recently, he shared a story on Facebook, and agreed to share it here, in the hope it might help others.

Feeling down, or perhaps overwhelmed, he went to Mass and sat in church, angry.

As Mass was about to start, an an elderly man approached and stopped right in front of him

“Why are you so serious?” the man said. “You need to smile more!”

“I wanted no part of it,” my friend said. He’d never seen this man in La Vernia, much less at St. Ann’s. And the gentleman reeked of alcohol!

“So I just looked right through him.”

The man walked around in front of the family, and sat right next to them, in the same pew. During Mass, he was reverent, humble, and respectful.

They exchanged messages of peace, along with the rest of the congregation.

As Mass ended, the man persisted, following my friend and his daughter out of church.

“See, you do smile; that’s much better!” the man said. “God only gives you so many opportunities to smile. Use them, son!”

“Sir, with all due respect, if you only knew what I have been through, you would understand,” my friend replied.

The man responded, “I’ve been there. God bless you. I love you!”

And my friend couldn’t help but reply, “Love you too, God bless you!”

And the funny thing is, he said, he hasn’t felt this strong since his wife passed away.

“I can’t understand it; it’s difficult to explain, comprehend, but I know the Holy Spirit visited me that night!” he said. “Yes! Right here in La Vernia! Through this gentleman! God is good!”

During Advent, God invites us to prepare the way for Christ to be born anew in our hearts.

We know the tale of His birth so well how He was born in humble surroundings to a carpenter and his wife, how shepherds were told by angels to look for a child, born in a manger.

Sometimes, we have to be told or shown, as the shepherds were, where to look for Him. He doesn’t come in royal garb, attended by servants.

God visits us in many guises. Sometimes, it’s obvious and we recognize and welcome Him. Other times, we can’t see Him, hidden behind the mask of someone unlikely, asking us to do what seems impossible, implausible. Yet He is there, inviting us to step out of our daily lives, into the Moment to meet Him, to meet ourselves.

We must choose to respond to His invitation. In responding, we experience that Moment, the reminder that He is here, that He truly is Emmanuel, God with us.

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