This story is one of a series of stories that begin with the title “Out of the Mouths of Babes.” These stories celebrate the Wisdom of God that can be ours when we listen to and reflect on the words that lead to worship and thanksgiving, words spoken by children. For, as Psalm 8:2-3 tells us, “O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! I will sing of your majesty above the heavens with the mouths of babes and infants...”
The first grade “walkers” (as opposed to “bussers”), all bundled up for the winter cold, were lined up single file, right shoulders close to the first grade hallway wall.
Asked to “keep an eye” on the students until their teacher returned, I was positioned at the “head” of the line, facing them, dressed as I had been all day--no outer coat or hat or boots for me.
Just as I spotted their teacher, walking down the hallway toward me, I heard one of the students break the silence as she took a step sideways out of the line.
“I know him!” she said enthusiastically, pointing in my direction.
With heightened security everywhere in the building, my first thought was: “Who is he, and does he have a visitor’s pass to be in the building?”
Turning to see who the young child was pointing to, I was surprised to see no one in the hallway behind me.
Turning back to the student, she pointed again in my direction, adding more information, “I know him from church.”
And then it occurred to me. The “him” was “Him.” The “Him” she was referring to was the Lord Jesus. The student had recognized Him on the locket I wore, a locket with a superimposed crucifix.
In ten years of being in elementary schools while wearing that same locket, never before had it elicited such a reaction. Regardless, the student’s unrestrained joy at recognizing Him was a reaction I never have forgotten.
She “knew” Him from church and was happy to see Him in her hallway.
I’m sure her reaction greatly delighted Him.
What did her reaction teach me? I think we can grow stale and blind to the Lord’s Presence in our everyday lives. Thanks to that first grader’s unbridled reaction of joy, from then on I was more cognizant of His Presence in school, and of my role in projecting that Presence, too.
Locket with superimposed crucifix or not, we are supposed to reflect the Lord to one another.
When I first started teaching I refused to wear any religious jewelry, so cautioned had I been in our teaching methods courses not to proselytize.
Years later, when I returned to teaching after a hiatus of raising children, I left my cross on, deciding that inasmuch as I teach by who I am as well as by what I say and do, I no longer wanted to deny that aspect of my personhood. I wasn’t aiming on proselytizing, but I also wasn’t willing to do any more denying.
Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world…. your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matt. 5:14;16)
In 2 Corinthians 5:20, St. Paul reminds us that “… we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
In this Mercy Jubilee, being “reconciled to God” reminds me about the privilege and necessity of receiving the Lord’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation in order to be more authentic and convincing “ambassadors" for Him.
Whether we wear signs of our belief in Christ or not, are we fitting and available representatives through whom God can appeal to those whom we meet? Do we shed Christ’s Light in a darkened world?
In response to our Baptismal promises and responsibilities, let us sincerely work and pray so!
May God bless you!