In early January, our youth team went to the SEEK Conference in Indianapolis put on by FOCUS. We joined 17,000 other young adults for five days of beautiful prayer and fellowship, along with some incredible talks from world-class Catholic speakers like Scott Hahn and Edward Sri. I could write a whole series of posts talking about the graces received during the conference, but what I really wanted to touch on was something explained by Sr. Miriam James. In her witness, she spoke of the power and beauty that comes from seeking the face of Christ. She noted how we come to know each other so much more intimately by studying the face of our friend and learning his expressions, his gaze, his mannerisms. That desire for intimate knowledge of Christ, realized through the beauty of His countenance, accompanied me as I returned to Milford after New Years to resume ministry.
This desire to know the face of Christ became coupled with another desire that was growing in me, the desire to be with the poor. While I take so much joy in being able to minister to the youth, I have always felt a special connection to those experiencing poverty. But since coming to Ohio and spending so much of my time at the retreat center, I hadn’t really found an outlet to realize that desire.
A couple weeks ago, I was strolling down Main Street here in Milford, coming back from daily mass at St. Andrew’s, when a man that I didn’t know called after me. “Excuse me, sir!” He came up to me seeming almost in a hurry, so I stopped to see what he needed. He told me that his name is Rick, and that he saw me walking on the sidewalk with my cane, and he was wondering if he could pray for me. Believe it or not, this is a fairly common experience! When you have a visible disability, everyone and their brother wants to pray for your healing—not that I mind though. I’m always down to be prayed for. We Catholics don’t typically do this sort of thing. And when I think about it honestly, I think that many of us would lack the boldness of faith to attempt this even if we were prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so. So I admired his faithfulness and courage. Anyway, I agreed to let him pray for me, which he did.
Afterwards, we began to talk. He asked me if I knew the Lord. I smiled and said that I did. He began to tell me a bit about his own faith journey, and after going back and forth a bit, it became evident that, though we were strangers, our love for Christ established a brotherhood that preceded this chance meeting, and I quickly got the sense that I was talking with a good friend. He continued to tell me about a couple of church events that he was involved with, including one called Kingdom Warriors, which is a group of people from various churches that get together in Milford every Monday to drive to downtown Cincinnati to distribute food and supplies to the homeless population. At this, my ears perked up. “Do you think I could join you all sometime?” Excitedly, Rick gave me his phone number and said that he would love to help me get there if I ever needed a ride.
Since this chance meeting, I’ve gone with Rick twice to Kingdom Warriors. I’ve seen the face of Christ in Mike, a man currently living out of his car who happened upon us one night when he wasn’t sure how he would find dinner. I’ve seen him in my brother Max who loves old school hip hop and good barbecue. I’ve seen him in Annette, in her singing and in her smile. He is so present in each of us, and especially in the faces of the poor. May we never stop seeking His marvelous face in the faces of our brothers and sisters.