A couple months ago, I went to visit my sister at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH. While there, I noticed a statue of a beggar outside of the chapel that I had never seen before. Each time I passed it that weekend I had to stop and ask myself: what is he asking, what do I need to see here? Why does he sit there on a busy campus hardly noticed, waiting?
The statue I faced was of Christ sitting on the ground, head bowed, and hands outstretched. Looking at Him, my eyes couldn’t ignore the wounded hands He extended. Who is this beggar, what does He seek, and why does He open His hands to me?
He was sitting in the shadow of the Church yard: unnoticed, quiet, waiting. But what struck me was how easy it would have been for me not to notice him, not even see Him. Who is this Beggar? I looked at Him and I knew He was asking something of me and of each passerby. But what was it?
Caryll Houselander in her book “The Reed of God” writes:
“In every one of us there is some lack which is Christ’s need. It makes it possible for all of us to give to Him, through the limited means that we have.”
Christ asks us to be his hands, his feet, his mouth. In a very real way, we are invited to be Christ to others, and even more so, to recognize Him in each and every person we meet. Our struggle is that we find it difficult to accept that He resides in each of us. However, by our being made in His image and likeness, we cannot ignore that He is present. Knowing this truth, we must train our eyes, our hearts, to see Him in ourselves and in every person we come in contact with, no matter how bruised or disfigured from sin.
“Each one of us can only live a fragment of Christ’s life at one time, perhaps one moment of it or one incident or one experience. But through our communion with one another in Him…we make up what is wanting in one another and are whole…in us all, as one Body, his whole life is lived. Because He is not limited but illimitable Love, His joy and sorrow go on forever…His need for people’s response to Him go on in us through all time.”
What could I give to Him? How could I respond to this humble beggar? As we begin this time of Lent, I invite you to seriously bring this question before the Lord in prayer. What is this humble beggar asking of you? How is He asking you to live His life today? We will find that the answer to this is different for each of us, and because of this, all the more important. What is my response going to be? Will I participate in meeting this need of Christ’s, that only I, as part of the Body of Christ on earth, can fill?