After Jesus had chosen the twelve apostles, he headed back home, but a huge crowd gathered and he couldn’t even eat a meal.
And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
It wasn’t just his family. Many others thought he was crazy, too. That opinion persists to the present day, even amongst Christians.
Jesus told a story about what would happen at the end of time. He said that the King would separate the sheep from the goats, the good from the bad. And then he said,
The King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
If someone were to ask you how to find God, what would you say? The most common response would be “Go to church” or “Pray.” These ideas seem completely reasonable. But Jesus had this crazy idea that he could be found, not in a church somewhere, but in everyday life, in the people that we meet. He made it very plain, “I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” There is no mention of prayer or church attendance. No mention of religious activities, at all. He does not even mention faith! Jesus must be out of his mind to suggest that we can find him, not just amongst the poor and the unfortunate. He is the poor and unfortunate. When I hand money to someone who is poor, I am looking Jesus right in the face.
St. Alphonsus was a Jesuit who lived in the mid- to late-1500s. He served as a porter at a Jesuit college in Spain, receiving visitors, connecting students and teachers, running errands, consoling the sick, and distributing alms. All rather menial work, really, especially compared to those of his colleagues who were professors and administrators. His constant prayer, though, was, “Lord, let me know you. And let me know myself.” Whenever the bell rang, he looked at the front door envisioning that it was God Himself on the other side. On his way, he would say, “I’m coming, Lord!” Each person he met was an answer to his prayer: “Lord, let me know you.”
That we might see Jesus everywhere we turn does not stand to reason. For one thing, Jesus is not here; he ascended into heaven. And how can a mere mortal be Jesus? How can a person whose name I know (and it’s not Jesus!) be Jesus? Isn’t it blasphemy to consider an ordinary human being as Jesus Christ? Not only would I be committing blasphemy to see another human as God, but Jesus must be crazy to think that he is this poor person in front of me.
Or, so conventional thinking goes.
Several months ago, I said to my wife, “You are God to me.” She was taken aback, thinking that I had spoken a heresy, committed blasphemy, gone off the deep end. “I am not God,” she responded, correcting my foolishness. “But, you are,” I said. “When you hug me, I feel the arms of God wrapped around me. When you forgive me, I am forgiven by God. When you kiss me, I am kissed by God. When you encourage me, I am encouraged by God. You are God to me.”
I know a good many people who do not identify themselves as “Christian” who are so kind, so generous, so loving… to Jesus. In the end, they will hear the King say, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
But that’s crazy.