Christ’s presence in those we serve

by Sister Christina M. Neumann

Sisters

Sister Christina M. Neumann

As we delve again into this glorious Easter season, the scriptures read at Mass are full of examples of people meeting the Risen Lord. They encounter Jesus in various places: on the road, by the lakeshore, and even behind locked doors. Be they the women going to take care of a body, downcast disciples journeying home to return to “normal” life, or disciples on an unsuccessful fishing expedition, these individuals had encounters with Jesus that changed their lives forever.

We may think, “What would it have been like to meet Jesus after he had risen? What would I have said or asked? What would I have done?”

As interesting as these questions may be to reflect upon, we would do well to realize that we too meet Jesus in various places – in our homes, workplaces, and nearly everywhere we go. We meet him every day.

Serving as a Franciscan Sister at St. Anne’s Guest Home in Grand Forks, a care facility for elderly and vulnerable adults, I am mindful of this. Every day, I need to be aware of his presence in the people I serve. My work as a receptionist and an aide gives me frequent opportunities to see and serve Christ in those in need.

There are the ordinary moments of my day when I need to remind myself of his presence. I need to keep in mind that “he whom I serve is the Lord.” But there are also times when I’ve made the realization that, “I’m serving Jesus here!”

This can be in the littlest of things – jumping up to open the door for someone coming through with a cart or consoling a distressed resident who is almost in tears. Whether I am washing out compression stockings for a resident suffering from swollen legs or baking cookies with elderly ladies who love to take part in such nostalgic activities, I am really serving Jesus. What a privilege!

The fact that there are crucifixes, statues, and religious images around the facility remind me that I’m serving Jesus when I’m caught up in other things and have lost awareness of his presence.

Being in a Catholic facility has an additional wonderful benefit that, to me, is so very important – having a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament.

If I am having a hard afternoon at the front desk, it is comforting to remember that Jesus is physically just down the hall (as well as being spiritually present within us). In fact, when I was exploring Religious Life, devotion to Jesus’ Eucharistic presence was one of the features that was appealing to me in a community.

It is wonderful to begin my day sitting in his presence, reflecting on his Word. After this, as I leave the chapel, I go to serve Him in those I meet. This is definitely in keeping with St. Francis’ life and spirituality. He saw Christ in the suffering and in those less fortunate than himself, and had a special devotion to Christ’s Eucharistic presence.

Our convent (across the yard from St. Anne’s) is also blessed with a little chapel where Jesus is present. When I go home to do some cleaning, or pick up a needed item, I always stop in and say “hello” before going about my business. I want to show my gratitude for Christ’s enduring presence.

Although I did not see Jesus when he walked with his disciples during those forty days after the Resurrection, I meet him each day in those whom I serve. I meet him in my co-workers to whom I am called to show love and respect. I meet him in a very special way when I receive him at Mass each morning.

Jesus is so present to us, if only we recognized him more!