MH Missouri – We Follow a Vulnerable God

by Tyler Head, former working guest in Combermere and friend of MH Missouri

One morning in late December, as I was praying silently before Mass, a man I will call “Jerome” entered the church and came up to my pew. He asked to speak to me in the anteroom. It was “kind of urgent,” he told me.

Had he backed into my twenty-year-old car? No, praise the Lord, he had not!

In the fussy children’s room, Jerome told me his story, and it was a classic request. He was from another city, he said, and his car had broken down in an area that I knew was miles away.

He was waiting for his buddy to pick him up, and ten (soon, twenty) dollars would help him along his way.

The first reading of the Mass of the day was 1 John 2:1-11, and the night before I had “manducated” or chewed it, a method I had learned from the Community of the Lamb, which I belong to. It’s a method similar to lectio divina.

In light of the word I kept in my heart from this reading, I decided to suspend my suspicions and show this man perhaps the only compassion and generosity he would receive all day.

After I had forked over the money and my gloves, Jerome re-entered the church, and my suspicions re-entered as well. Within five minutes, he was trying the same story on someone else. I was not surprised, but my heart sank. I became afraid that I encouraged unwelcome and manipulative behavior.

A couple of men older than I am turned their heads, left their pews, and walked towards Jerome.

I could not hear more than a few sentences from that direction. I opted to sit and look ahead and ignore the fact that Jerome was probably being asked to leave the church.

After that, I couldn’t focus on the Mass—except for the reading from 1 John, the one I had read the night before.

The way we may be sure that we know Him is to keep His commandments. …. Whoever keeps His word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with Him: whoever claims to abide in Him ought to live just as he lived. … Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.

St. John is not saying we won’t feel uncomfortable if we obey God’s word. John was in union with Jesus in his extreme discomfort on the Cross. He is not saying we won’t feel like fools in trying to obey God’s word. In the eyes of the world, Jesus Christ lived like a fool.

Then the Holy Spirit turned my interior eyes away from my doubts about Jerome’s story towards reflecting on how God shows me love in spite of my sins.

Like Jerome, how often I have presented myself in such a way that I got what I wanted, even when I didn’t need what I was asking for! And how often had I closed the doors of my heart to people in need around me!

These are the thoughts I had during a Mass in the season which celebrates the birth of the vulnerable God.