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Encountering Christ and radiating Him to others Print
Guest column
Thursday, Sep. 17, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
Morgan Smith

As I go through each day, ­­often monotony sets in, and I try to remember my conversion. I try to keep the memory of what happened to me­ -- ­the event of meeting Christ and falling in love with Him­­ -- alive to let it permeate my being through the drudgery of everyday things.

This is so difficult for me! Why is it so easy to forget what has happened to us? Why do we allow the distractions of life to take hold of our hearts and minds until we forget the reason for life itself?

Even on the worst of days ­­when I have intense sadness, or I am bored with my life, or distracted by my projects, ­­I need to remember what has happened to me.

Priest's face at consecration

In reflecting upon this, I am struck by a certain priest who celebrates Mass at my parish. Nothing makes me remember the event of Christ in my life more than this priest's face during the consecration.

As he lifts up the host, his face transforms into something new: open, bright, joyful, serene, and full of beautiful understanding. It shines like the white of the Transfiguration, and it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Every time I see this, my heart melts, I smile boldly, and I am brought back to the moment of my conversion when I met Christ. I know at this moment that I am loved, ­­I am fulfilled.

This priest's face is a reflection of what is really happening in the Eucharist; ­­it is a reflection of Christ's gaze in love on us. The Eucharist is the living memory of Christ with us, happening to us.

Encountering Christ

This reflection always brings me home to the reality of Christ present, and it begs the question: why don't we all look like this in the presence of the Eucharist? What makes us so easily forget the reality of what is happening in the Eucharist -- ­­that Christ is making Himself present to us?

Ask yourself how you approach this. What is my face like at that moment? Do I really carry with me the memory of what happened to me? Do I express my love for Him in all my actions?

It all comes down to the memory of Christ, ­­the encounter with Him, and the fact that this encounter keeps happening to us. We need to become Him, ­­to radiate His gaze. This is what He wants for us. This is beauty in its truest form.

The priest's face transforms in front of Christ; ­­he is open to it. We need to be open to it as well. But not only that: we need to radiate this to everyone we meet! As followers of Christ, we are called to look at others with His gaze.

Looking at others

I met a woman once who told me what a difficult time she was having after recently moving to Madison. She had lost a sense of being loved and of being known, and she felt a kind of loneliness.

One day, she went into a small store to do some shopping. A young man opened the door for her, held it open, and looked into her eyes and smiled from ear to ear.

The fact that he looked into her eyes and smiled was very striking to her. In the midst of her loneliness, here was this man who really looked at her; ­­he looked at her and smiled! This opened her up to gladness and gratitude, and it changed her completely.

Even as she was talking about this event to me, she changed. She went from teary eyed to wide open and smiling. The encounter with this man reminded her of her purpose and her reason for living; ­­it reminded her of Christ. In this short moment, she regained her dignity as a person and as a beloved daughter of God.

There is dignity in being looked at­ -- ­really looked at. There is dignity and meaning in a look of ­understanding, deep connection, and joy. This is the memory of Christ happening now. In the gaze of an other, we find our dignity as persons and the memory of Christ's love for us.

How do you look at others: your co­worker who annoys you, your mother-­in-­law, the guy who works on your car? How about your closest friend?

Remember the last time you were looked at, how you felt fully human. We need this memory to truly live, and we need to relive this memory to allow others to live as well.

Morgan Smith is a member of the Cathedral Parish in Madison and active in the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.