I have always believed that we all have gifts that are given to us by God at the moment of our birth, and realized sometime later through our own lives and His guidance. Whether we know or believe it or not. There are many people in my life whose gifts I can clearly see as a manifestation of the love of Jesus Christ on earth. Teachers, healthcare workers, my own family, priests, manual labor workers… They are all there. When they approach their chosen profession with passion and a sincere heart to love and serve others, they are like Him.
Reflection of Jesus as a Teacher
Many of the good teachers who I know, or who I have had the pleasure of learning from as either a young boy or grown man, clearly show the love of Jesus through their profession. They could be the teachers of young children. If they are, their love for children and their passion for teaching them show a reflection of Jesus and who He is. He always loved and protected the little ones. In Matthew 19:14 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these. In the same way, the truly good teachers of young children look after, and care for their well-being first and foremost.
If they are high school teachers or college professors, I view them also like Jesus, but in a different way. Jesus taught the adults, but was more stern and direct with them than the children when He needed to be. The best teachers I have had in high school and college have been this way. Compassionate and understanding, but also not afraid to be stern with me when I wasn’t listening or understanding something I should understand. Jesus was repeatedly stern with Peter, who wanted to do the right thing, but who often put his foot in his mouth. But Jesus loved Peter, and helped him realize his potential as the leader of the early Church. My teachers and professors did the same thing for me by setting me up to realize my potential. And teachers do the same for all of us.
Reflection of Jesus as caregiver and healer
Healthcare workers reflect Jesus as well, through their compassion for the sick and injured. Jesus never turned away those who truly needed His care. Neither do the best doctors and nurses. While we know doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers cannot perform healing miracles like Jesus, it is the spirit in which they approach people which makes them like Him. Jesus didn’t reject the leper, paralytic, or blind man. He readily healed them out of His infinite love and mercy. In the same way, truly good healthcare workers take in the sickest among us with a compassionate heart, and a desire to heal. For the scripture showing Jesus’ compassion and mercy as a healer, look at Matthew 8 for the healing of the leper, Mark 2 for the healing of the paralytic, and John 9 for the healing of the blind man.
I may not have known it at the time, but looking back now, I have certainly experienced the love and care of Jesus in this way. Mostly through the doctors, nurses and caregivers who watched over me when I recovered from two painful surgeries on my legs. There was never a time where the doctors and nurses treated me poorly. Under the confident, watchful eye of the doctor, I felt safe and in good hands. And in the hospitality and incredible kindness from the nurses, I felt loved and taken care of. If my personal examples, or the examples you hear about doctors and nurses treating Coronavirus patients aren’t a direct reflection of Jesus, what is?
Reflection of Jesus as a manual laborer
Jesus can also be found in the humility of those who perform manual labor jobs, such as a retail worker, trucker, or those in a trade. Jesus Himself worked a trade as a carpenter under his father Joseph. I always find it beautiful that Jesus, God in the flesh, was a humble, lowly carpenter before His ministry. Seeing Him as a carpenter reminds me of those who might be a retail worker, trucker, electrician or plumber: The job they do may not seem important, but if they didn’t do their job, we’d all be in a world of hurt. This article I found had a really neat alternate meaning of the word “carpenter” and helped me to connect how I see Jesus present in this example. I imagine those who perform “everyday jobs” are most like Jesus when they humbly do their jobs and serve others with the attitude that He had. They quietly go about their business, and help others in whatever way they can.
Reflection of Jesus from priests and pastors
While this last example may seem obvious, I feel it is still necessary to include how Jesus is reflected in the best priests and pastors. The best priests and pastors offer counsel (teaching), and consolation for those of us who are struggling in our faith. Two men come to mind when I think of great pastors or priests: Joe Coffey of Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, Ohio. And the late Ernest Waechter, or as I know him, “Father Ernie.” He was one of the priests I grew up around in my hometown of Carey, Ohio.
Pastor Coffey is a great man in my mind because he always has such a knack for breaking down hard to understand Biblical concepts into easy to digest teachings or messages. And he often demonstrates this in his sermons. This was not unlike the way Jesus would demonstrate things He wanted the Apostles to learn by telling parables or stories. He used parables to simplify things for Peter and the others. Some of the most memorable parables are the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Parable of the Mustard Seed, Parable of the Prodigal Son, and the Parable of the Fig Tree.
Along with those who are excellent teachers like Pastor Joe Coffey, there are also men of God who are excellent at consoling people, and helping them to renew their strength in Jesus. Father Ernie was one of them. I still clearly remember an instance of confession that will stick with me until my dying breath.
I don’t know if any of you were raised Catholic. I was. And I was always scared to death of going to Confession. That booth made me feel claustrophobic, and being able to hear the priest but not see him was scary. I was ashamed of telling my sins to priests, as I was often intimidated by them too. But Father Ernie was one of the most compassionate men I have ever met. In my confession, I told him that I was deathly scared I was losing my faith, and that I was in trouble with God. I was in tears. But instead of chastising me or judging me, he simply put his hand on my shoulder and reminded me that even the Apostles themselves were weak in their faith time and again. And then he told me how Thomas doubted Jesus, and how Peter denied Him, but that Jesus forgave them both.
I’ll never forget looking up at Father Ernie through tear-filled eyes and seeing a calm, warm, compassionate smile on his face. I walked out of there with a renewed sense of peace and strength. I’m sure you all know someone who just seems to be closer to God, or where you would want to be in following Him. For me, one of those people is Father Ernie. He’s in Heaven, or I’m in serious trouble!
Where do you see Jesus?
I encourage you to think of people you know who perform jobs where you can actively see Jesus at work through them. Or perhaps look inside yourself, and see what skills or talents you have that can help you to mirror Him. I am still looking for ways in which I can see Jesus in myself or the skills that I have. I don’t often see Him in the man that I am. But then again, I am my own worst critic. But if we see Jesus in ourselves and others through our best qualities, perhaps we can truly do whatever we were put on this Earth to do in order to be more like Jesus, and glorify Him. Whatever that may be. Take care and God bless you all! 🙂