Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
Do You Have a Light?
I saw the man as I was pulling into the parking lot. I saw him moving from car to car and felt myself getting a little nervous. I had been to this nursing home many times and never saw anyone doing this in the parking lot. I parked the car and sure enough the man came up to my window and indicated he wanted me to roll down the window so he could speak to me. I took a deep breath and rolled the window down about two inches.
The man asked if I had a light. I was relieved as I knew that I truly did not have a cigarette lighter in my car, nor did I have a book of matches with me. He thanked and walked away. This man challenged my insides. He was somewhat disheveled and his clothes were very dirty. His lunch appeared to be on the front of his jeans. I noticed all of these things as I tried to talk myself into letting go of the encounter.
I was kind of nervous this day anyway as I had a new patient to meet and that is always a little anxiety producing for me. I walked back to the patient’s room and he wasn’t there, nor was the other patient I had hoped to visit. I asked one of the nurses where she thought I might be able to find this new patient. She said he is often outside smoking…and then she described him…and I knew then that I had already met him on my way in the building.
Returning to the parking area I met my new patient…he was very gentle and very dirty physically. I had to work very hard to get out of the way and as I worked I heard the words of Mother Theresa as she talked about Jesus being every person with whom she worked…I heard later that this man had cared for his mother until her death this past summer. He had a strong sense that something was wrong with himself during that time, but put it off so he wouldn’t worry his mother…
In both the First Reading and in the Gospel, the followers of both Jesus and Moses are reporting to their leaders that others are giving voice and witness to God. Both men tell their followers not to get caught in their jealousy and ownership of the message.
My new patient last week challenged me to allow the bigness of Jesus’ message to be alive and well despite my short sightedness and ownership of the gospel. I still get rattled when I think about the whole experience. It is so easy to fall into blind Pharisees and haughty disciples. I am reminded through these unexpected sightings of Jesus, just how much I need the message of Jesus.