How Do We Encounter Others

Yesterday I attended morning mass at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, where my friend Jennifer’s daughter, the newly ordained Reverend Philippa E. Lindwright, presided for the first time. It was beautiful to be part of Pippa’s first mass and to celebrate with her and her family afterward.

The sermon was delivered by the rector of St. Christopher’s, Rev. John. Dwyer. He began by talking about a particular Episcopal bishop who has the ability to make you feel like you are the only person in the world when he is talking to you. Even in a crowded room of people, when he interacts with you, you are his sole focus. Even in the midst of complete chaos, for the time he is talking with you, none of the rest of that exists.

That, he suggested, is how Jesus dealt with everyone that he met. Today’s Gospel recorded two such encounters: Jesus’ encounter with Jairus and his encounter with the hemmorrhagic woman. Both were suffering tremendously and each had Jesus’ undivided attention as he spoke with them. In the case of the woman, this was despite the fact that the crowds were pressing in all around Jesus.

There are many ways we can try to be more like Jesus. This one has the virtue of being a lot more feasible than walking on water or feeding the multitudes. We can’t raise the dead of turn water into wine, but we can focus on the person we are with. We can really listen to them, hear what they are saying (and what they are not). We can make them feel like, for at least that moment they are with us, that there is nothing else in the world that matters more than they do. That is a way of loving like Jesus did that we are all capable of.