Tag Archives: accompaniment

Who are you?

In today’s Gospel (John 1: 19-28) John the Baptist is clear.

I am not the Christ, the Messiah, the savior. Neither am I Elijah or one of the prophets.

Who are you? Who am I?

When I first read Thomas Merton’s novel, My Argument with the Gestapo, I was moved by this passage:

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I think I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for. Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. The better answer he has, the more of a person he is…. I am all the time trying to make out the answer as I go on living. I live out the answer to my two questions myself and the answer may not be complete, even when my life is ended I may go on working out the answer for a long time after my death, but at least it will be resolved, and there will be no further question, for with God’s mercy, I shall possess not only the answer but the reality that the answer was about.”

But yesterday I read a short essay on Facebook by a friend, Rachel – a mother raising three precocious girls alone. I haven’t met the girls but I hope one day to meet these incredible young women.

In her essay Rachel mentions the importance of accompaniment in her life and notes, “Accompaniment is an act of resistance.”

This morning, asking who I am, I pondered how much accompaniment is a part of my life – or, at least, of my vision for my life.

A companion is one who shares bread with another. I hope and pray that I can grow into this. I tend to want to just sit at home and read and work on the computer. But I feel a call to accompany even more the people I live among, listening to them, accepting invitations to share a meal in their homes.

This is an act of resistance – to thinking and acting as if the world revolves around me, to the attitude of self-sufficiency – that I can do this by myself, to the blindness in the face of the suffering people at our door, to the principalities and powers of this world who want to ignore the weak and the vulnerable, to the forces that want to deny the possibility of the Beloved Community.

I did not make a New Year’s resolution yesterday, butI think I have one today:

May this year be a year of more accompanying, more sharing of tortillas at the table of the poor.


The Glory of God

You are my servant, Israel,
through whom I show my glory.
Isaiah 49: 3

How do I manifest the glory of God?

How do I, in my daily life, show God’s glory?

There is a temptation to think that one can best show the glory of God by grand spectacles, by spectacular deeds, by lives that make people look on in admiration.

But, Jesus is manifested not as a Lion, but as the Lamb of God. As Jean Vanier notes, “We are called to be gentle followers of the Lamb, not people of power.”

But what is the glory of God?

St. Irenaeus put it succinctly:

The glory of God is the human person fully alive, and to be alive consists in beholding God.

Martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero added:

 Gloria Dei, vivens pauper.
The glory of God is the poor person fully alive.

When a person is fully alive God shines through. The person lives as a child of God – a person who is be loved as we love God. The human person fully alive lives with dignity.

That means that we must love and respect that person – and, better, accompany that person in the path of life and love.

In my ministry that means letting my presence, my accompaniment, be a means by which the people can see their dignity, their capabilities, their relationship with a loving God.

In speaking of catechists in Evangelii Gaudium, ¶164, Pope Francis put it well:

the first proclamation must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.”

We are called to manifest that love of God, especially for the poor, in our lives.

Recently I finished Eloi Leclerc’s The Wisdom of the Poor One of Assisi. At the end of this fictional account, he has St. Francis say these words to Brother Tancred:

“Can’t you see, Brother, that to evangelize a person is to say to that one: ‘You─yes, you too are loved by God in the Lord Jesus.’
“And you must not only tell that person so, but you must really believe it, and not only believe it, but conduct yourself with this person in such a way that this person can feel and discover there is something within that is being redeemed, something more majestic and noble than had ever been dreamed.”

How can I show the glory of God in my life so that the poor discover that power of God, that grace of God – in their personal lives and in their lives as community – that shows forth redemption, life, and love?


The solidarity of Mary and Elizabeth

Painting in the church of El Sitio, Suchitoto, El Salvador

Painting in the church of El Sitio, Suchitoto, El Salvador

Mary went in haste
to visit her cousin Elizabeth.
Luke 1: 

Mary, pregnant with the Word of God, goes to visit her aged cousin, Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist.

Did she go just to help her cousin or did she go seeking the help and advice of an older relative who was also experiencing pregnancy?

Did she go confident of what she had experienced when the angel appeared to her or did she go to share her misgivings with a cousin whose husband had also been visited by an angel?

We will probably never know.

But I think this is a case of real solidarity, real accompaniment. Both are sharing and caring for each other. Both have something to offer. Both experience the presence of the Lord in very physical ways – Mary with Jesus in her womb and Elizabeth with John jumping (kicking?) in hers.

When we realize that God is present, we can be more open to accompanying the other person, being there with them in joys and sorrows, in pain and in laughter.

May this season be a time to renew experiences of solidarity and accompaniment – so that we can remember that God is present.