What we have touched
1 John 1: 1
How often we lament that we do not have direct personal contact with Jesus, that we cannot touch him, hear his voice, and sit down at the table and eat with him.
In today’s first reading from St. John’s first letter, John recalls that he has experienced the Lord. He heard him saw him, touched him with his hands. But he realizes that this was not for his personal satisfaction. His experiences of the Word of Life were given him to share with other, to announce to others.
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life—for the life was revealed; we have seen it and testify to it and announce to you eternal life… what we have seen and heard we now announce to you, so that you too may have community/communion (koinonia) with us… (1 John 1: 1-3)
Thanks to Saint John and the other evangelists and writers of the early church we have accounts of this Jesus who came to save us.
But still we might long to the chance to see Jesus, to serve him, to be with him.
This morning I came upon a column of Dorothy Day in The Catholic Worker, thanks to a Facebook post of a friend, Jim Forest, who has written an incredibly beautiful illustrated biography of her, All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day.
In Dorothy Day’s column, found here, we hear her call upon us to make room for Christ:
It is no use to say that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts.
But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks, with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers and suburban housewives that he gives…
We can do now what those who knew Him in the days of His flesh did. I’m sure that the shepherds did not adore and then go away to leave Mary and her Child in the stable, but somehow found them room, even though what they had to offer might have been primitive enough. All that the friends of Christ did in His life-time for Him we can do.…
In Christ’s human life there were always a few who made up for the neglect of the crowd.
We can do it too, exactly as they did. We are not born too late. We do it by seeing Christ and serving Christ in friends and strangers, in everyone we come in contact with. While almost no one is unable to give some hospitality or help to others, those for whom it is really impossible are not debarred from giving room to Christ, because, to take the simplest of examples, in those they live with or work with is Christ disguised.….
For a total Christian the goad of duty is not needed–always prodding him to perform this or that good deed. It is not a duty to help Christ, it is a privilege….
If that is the way they gave hospitality to Christ it is certain that is the way it should still be given. Not for the sake of humanity. Not because it might be Christ who stays with us, comes to see us, takes up our time. Not because these people remind us of Christ, as those soldiers and airmen remind the parents of their son, but because they are Christ, asking us to find room for Him exactly as He did at the first Christmas.
May we see Jesus and respond with love.