Seeing Jesus

If your mind were to work in the strange way that mine does, you might imagine the Gospel passage John 12.20 set for today finding its way into the letters page of a respectable newspaper: Sir, we wish to see Jesus. Yours, etc. The Greeks. I suppose then the challenge to the editor would be to reply with another quotation from this passage, ‘Where I am, there will my servant be also’: referenced by page numbers relating to articles in said newspaper depicting in image or in prose where one might see Jesus, if one were to look. And so, assuming that editors have better things to do, I’ve done the hard work for them and read through the paper. Unfortunately, save for the 83 year old lady from Maine who renamed herself ‘Jesus Christ’ and wrote to Oprah Winfrey urging her to be president, and for a review of Magdalene the Movie, references were in short supply. Odd? Perhaps not. A closer look is required, as at the image here in order to really see to catch a glimpse of the story behind the headlines. For to see Jesus, is to recognise something beyond the obvious. Why is Jesus depicted here as a homeless person? Because often we walk on by suggesting we never saw a child hungry or naked, forgetting the words ‘when you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.’ So digging deeper into the stories through the paper, there we will find Jesus the refugee, the abandoned child, the one fleeing from conflict, the accused and the wrongly accused. And on the other side of the coin, we find those offering shelter, those preparing a place of welcome and hospitality, those seeking justice for others. And then there are the (all too) few places where we find the celebration, yes, Jesus was here too, at the party, in the background, telling stories. Sir, we wish to see Jesus. Well then, the stories are there, beneath the surface of the headline where all those images of Jesus are present. If we want to truly see Jesus, we will need to look into the eyes of each of those who are in these stories to hear and feel their pain, join in their suffering, begin to understand where they have been let down and pushed aside. To have their empathy and care. To join in their celebrating. In response to the letter then: ‘Sir, We wish to see Jesus.’ The response perhaps ought to be ‘then, open your eyes.’ For we might, rather than just see Jesus, be able to see as Jesus sees – that within every one of these stories there are ordinary folk struggling to make a life worth living, those who are in need of hope, warmth, support and love. And there are those struggling to make a life worth living for others. And there are those for whom someone has succeeded in helping them and create a better place. And then, when all these things are done, we too will be able to say to the request, ‘We want to see Jesus.’ Look, then where Jesus’ servants are, for there he will be also.