Mennonite Health JournalArticles on the intersection of faith and health
from Mennonite Health Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1, January 2013
This morning I was reading in John 21, and I was impressed by the disciples not quite being sure at first that the person who had prepared and was serving them breakfast was indeed Jesus. John wrote that they did not ask him who he was, because they eventually concluded that it was Jesus. Yet, at first they were confused and unaware.
My response was to wonder whether there are times when Jesus has shown up around me, and I didn’t recognize him. There are times when I have prayed for a visual revelation of Jesus. Once I was leading a Sunday school elective from Philip Yancey’s study on The Jesus I Never Knew. I shared with the class my desire to have such an actual vision of Jesus. At the end of the quarter, I told the class I had not had a literal revelation or epiphany of Jesus, but that I had come to “see” Jesus in other ways in which I experienced his presence.
There is a phrase in the second chapter of Hebrews, in which the author wrote, “But we see Jesus.” We do not know for sure who the author of Hebrews is, so we don’t know whether the writer actually “saw” Jesus in his earthly ministry, but it is clear that the person writing had experienced the reality of Jesus in some manner.
I think of Mother Teresa, who said that in the poorest of the poor with whom she ministered, she saw the “face of Jesus.” She was able to reach down to serve those dying in the streets of Calcutta, because she experienced in her heart that she was indeed serving Jesus in each individual as she gave “pastoral care” to persons in real and desperate need.
Thus, I reflect that in our work as chaplains, as we share compassion and pastoral care with residents or patients or clients, or even with co-workers, we are also serving and loving Jesus. I am sure that I have often missed Jesus in my ministry of offering pastoral care. I may have missed him incarnate in the person I was serving. I may have missed him standing by my side, dwelling within me, yearning to give me the word of wisdom or the spirit of encouragement which I needed at a particular instance to give to the person or family to whom I was relating at the moment.
“Lord, forgive me for failing to see you when you were right there, present by my side – present in the person with whom I was relating. Open the eyes of my heart that I might see you, Jesus, and do not need to ask, ‘Who are you?’ as the disciples were just about to do. Or to ask, ‘Where are you, Jesus?’ – recognizing that you are here, now. Amen.”
About the author
Jim Leaman, MDiv, MA, served as a Chaplain at Landis Homes Retirement Community in Lititz, Pennsylvania, serving primarily residents in Personal Care and Health Care. He is past Treasurer of Mennonite Chaplains Association (MCA) and was a speaker at the MHF Retreat (Annual Gathering) at Laurelville in 2012.