Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Then she broke down in my arms

I got to witness someone experiencing the loving power of Jesus for the first time
in the middle of a Nandos restaurant.

She's a non-practising Catholic friend of mine who I've been praying for for more than a year now. Each night I lift up my petitions for those near and dear to me. I tell you this, not to elevate myself, but  to bring glory to Him (1 Cor 1:31).

Our meals had just been served and I had that moment of internal battle: should I? or shouldn't I? The should I won - I offered to say grace.

I held my breath, bracing for her reaction.

"Yeah, sure."

My breath slid out quietly and I quit driving my nails into the palms of my hands long enough to sign in.

"Dear Jesus, thank you for this food that you've blessed us with tonight, for the hands that have helped to bring it to our table. I thank you especially for the company - that I get to hang out with this beautiful, loving woman. Thank you that I have her in my life. Ame-"

"-can I add something?" My friend cut in.

I almost fell off my chair but recovered quickly enough to encourage her along.

"Of course, of course."

"I would like to thank you, God, that I have Michaela in my life, because she brings me so much joy and love. Amen."

My heart beat outside of my chest. All I could do was think, She's praying. Oh my goodness, she's praying. Does she even know that SHE'S PRAYING!!! Thank you Jesus. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

We signed out and for her sake as well as my own I was about to continue the conversation we'd been having - but then I heard a sniff coming from her direction. I turned to see her shoulders slumped and shaking up and down. Tears welled in her eyes and ran down her face. She lunged herself into my arms and broke down.

I don't think she knew it, but she had just experienced a moment with Christ.

What an absolute privilege it was to witness such a thing and to be an instrument in bringing it about. I've learnt three things as a result:

Lesson #1: The world can see Jesus in me.
At my last job, my workmates were talking about a new romcom that they wanted to see about sleeping around. One of them turned to me and said, "oh, but you wouldn't like it." At the time, I couldn't figure out why they would say such a thing. Don't get me wrong, it was truthful, but I had never expressed a distaste for such a thing, nor had I told any one of them that I'm Christian. Though I may forget about Him, He is in me. Though I may forget He is in me, the world sees Him all the same.

Lesson #2: God answers prayers when you pray with persistence and with expectancy.
St. Monica is a prime example. She prayed and wept for many, many years for the conversion of her son. He turned out to be one of the greatest theologians in the history of the church - St. Augustine (cf Confessions by St. Augustine).

Lesson #3: God cannot act unless we step out in bold faith.
"When God sends the prophet Jeremiah, He gives Him the power to 'pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant' (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God's power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Jesus is counting on you!" (Pope Francis WYD RIO closing Mass). For He has "no body but yours" (St. Teresa of Avila).

Pope Francis (2013, ¶2) shared with the youth of Argentina at World Youth Day last Thursday that, "The parishes, the schools, the institutions are made for going out." My understanding of what he was saying is that we cannot be for ourselves. We cannot make exclusive little kingdoms of our own. We cannot live in these picture-perfect bubbles. We must be formed in our parishes, schools and institutions to then take Christ out into the world.

Further reading:
God bless,

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