Last updated on November 27, 2020
One afternoon in a small Ontario city, I was driving, feeling a bit low and discouraged, mumbling some prayer to the Lord when I stopped at an intersection for the red light. A woman in her 30’s walked over to the passenger window. She leaned in a bit with bright smiling eyes asking me, “Wanna have some fun?”
I looked at her, annoyed and with a bit of volume, said, “No!”
Immediately her look soured. With sorrowful eyes, she said, I’m sorry to bother you. I hope you feel better soon.”
The green light suddenly appeared, and as I drove away, my heart lightened, and my grumbling to the Lord changed to genuine concern for her. Instantly I said to Jesus, “That was terrible what I just said to her. It was so uncharitable, Lord. No one deserves that, especially if she’s indeed a prostitute.”
About half a km down the road, I made a u-turn to find her and apologize. She seemed to vanish. I didn’t see her.
That began my prayers for her, imagining what I would have done had I had been in my usual friendly and chatty disposition.
Then I wondered if my guardian angel had just protected me, knowing how weak I am gazing at an attractive gal with that invitation.
It became clear to me that I had just encountered Jesus present in a prostitute, in the ‘distressing disguise’ Mother Teresa often used to describe the poor.
With thoughtful words and caring eyes, she had just consoled me, a poor creature like her. She did that for Jesus present in me, leading me away from my initial sadness and discouragement. I’m sure she didn’t know that.
Jesus told the disciples about how the Son of Man will come with the angels in his glory to gather the just,
“He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and, you gave me food, I was thirsty and, you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me…” (Matt 25:33-35)
In his description, Jesus says those who cared for him weren’t aware of it,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40)
Her sincere apology was a small act of kindness, but Jesus looks at the size of the love put into the action. He alone knows the amount of care she showed. I know that it was pretty clear in her eyes that her words sprang from a loving heart.
I remembered Dominic Savio’s words:
Nothing seems tiresome or painful when you are working for a Master who pays well, who rewards even a cup of cold water given for love of Him.
I continue to pray and thank the Lord for her. I don’t know if she knows Christ or how much she knows about him, but I do know He is drawing her to Himself and will one day encounter Him, the One for whom her heart continually longs.
Through the prophet Ezekiel in the first reading for the Solemnity of Christ the King this past Sunday, God tells us that he will search for us, “I will seek the lost and bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak…” (Ezekiel 34: 16)
We meet Jesus in amazing encounters. He is so good at initiating opportunities like this to show him a little love.