Seventh Report – 27 April

To see me is to see the Father

Saturday, 27 April, was the anniversary of the independence of Togo and we had a special thought for the Togolese people and for all SMA members working in Togo. Today our reflections on the formation, spirituality and lifestyle, administration and finance continued.

The meditation below was given by Father Malachy Flanagan, from the Irish Province.

I begin with a story. A man was at an airport waiting for a flight. He feels hungry and so goes to the kiosk to buy a packet of biscuits. He buys them and puts them into his travelling bag and sits down in the only available seat next to a lady. When seated, he reaches down into his travelling bag and pulls out the packet of biscuits. As he does so, he notices the lady beside him watching him closely. As he eats the first biscuit, the lady reaches over and takes one of the biscuits and eats it.

The man is amazed at this but he says nothing. However, not only did she take one biscuit – she alternates with the man. For every biscuit he took, the lady would take one.

This continued till there was only one biscuit remaining and the lady reaches over and takes it, breaks it in half, and gives half to the man. Then she gets up and without a word, she leaves.

The man is dumbfounded and not very happy. He thinks to himself, who does this lady think she is?

So he goes back to the kiosk and buys another packet of biscuits. He was just about to open the new packet when he notices the original packet of biscuits in his bag still unopened. Only then does he realise that when he reached for his packet of biscuits earlier – he reached into the lady’s bag and grabbed her packet by mistake.

Up to now he was looking at the lady very negatively. But now to his own embarrassment, he sees things from a new point of view. Can we imagine ourselves doing something like that man? Many a times we are clouded by our own instincts and notions. Unfortunately, these do hamper our relationship with others. It’s so important to be non-judgemental and to look beyond the obvious.

The Jews in the 1st Reading were blind and unable to see beyond themselves when they rejected Paul’s teaching. Paul responds and tells them that since they have rejected this message, then he has no choice but to turn to the pagans. He quotes Jesus by saying: “I have made you a light to the nations – that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth”. The first reading is another case of “God writing straight with crooked lines”. A God of surprises – using what seemed like a failure into something wonderful. (the Jews’ rejection is turned into the wonderful opportunity of salvation for the pagans).

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that “to see me is to see the Father”. To see Jesus is to see God. Jesus is the invisible God made visible. When people look at us – what do they see? What image or aspect of Jesus do we show?

We have been spending these days of Assembly looking at ourselves again; Looking at our SMA Mission; Looking towards our future. What did we see there? What is our vision for the future?

“Have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me”?

To be a more effective missionary – we must first know him.

To be a light to the nations – we must first have that light within us.

A torch without batteries gives no light. At the Easter Vigil, we sang and proclaimed: “Lumen Christi”. “The Light of Christ”. Christ’s light must shine in and through us. For we must be empowered by Jesus.

In these days of Eastertide and of our planning, may we continue to be guided by the Spirit and be enlightened by Jesus to see the way He wants us to go.