I’m currently reading a small book by Fr. Richard W. Gilsdorf called Go to Joseph, which offers insights into St. Joseph, about whom we are told very little in the Bible. I’ve been reading a chapter every morning as part of my morning prayer period. (This post is not about St. Joseph, by the way.)
In one chapter, Gilsdorf talks about Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. He describes Mary riding astride the donkey “like a living monstrance,” and then talks about their difficulty finding shelter in the evenings.
I was arrested by the designation of Mary as a “living monstrance.” What came to mind as I read the phrase was Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem…Jesus riding astride a donkey, with people spreading their cloaks on the ground before him, waving branches and crying out “Hosanna…Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.”
It would be easy, wouldn’t it, to recognize Jesus if he came “as himself.” He’d be hard to miss if he appeared in all his kingly glory. That would certainly make it easy for us to recognize him and give him praise and honor.
But most of the time, Jesus comes to us hidden. Comes to us disguised in the form of a “living monstrance.” Comes to us hidden in our co-workers….the man begging on the street corner…the tired pregnant woman who can barely carry her packages…our family members. No outward sign that says “Messiah” or “God.”
Gisldorf says of people who would have passed Mary and Joseph on the road and seeing only a young man and his young pregnant wife, “Who would have dreamed that before their eyes had just passed their Messiah.” Yet, that is exactly what we are asked to do. To look at the faces of all those we come in contact with and see them as living monstrances, to see them as carrying the living Jesus within. That is challenging, but that is the challenge we as Christians are given. To see everyone as carrying Christ within, and treating them accordingly.