Fr. Jerry's Letter to the Editor

Learning to see Jesus in others

Because every created thing has a relationship to God, we cannot misuse, abuse, or control any creature. We are not God. We do not own the earth. God simply allows us to make our home here and he expects us to keep the place in good condition. But, yes, the entire universe does belong to God’s creatures too because it was created by our loving Father and he calls us his children and heirs.

The human family is delicate and vulnerable. We are smart, fun-loving, gracious and kind sometimes and at other times dumb and very cruel. But we never lose our sacred resemblance to Jesus, none of us. This is important. God creates humans in his own glorious likeness.

I remember being six years old when my dad had me in a corner of the living room of our farmhouse. He was whipping me with his belt and saying, “I am going to whip you until you stop crying.” Well, I had never stood up for myself before, but I did that morning. I knew that I had been naughty, deserved to be punished by my dad, but I decided that if he whipped me, I had a right to cry. I cried and shouted at the top of my voice and I wore out my dad. He stopped whipping but I didn’t stop crying until I knew I had won.

Then I began standing up for others. It was during a dance we had for eighth graders at St. Mary’s School in Alton. I happened to notice that no one was dancing with Mary Ann. She sat alone; she was unpopular for being the class snitch. But not fair, I thought. She was just a girl waiting to dance, my classmate, and I was a boy who could stand up for her. “Mary Ann, may I have this dance?” I asked.

She looked at me and I saw that she had been crying. “I guess so.” she answered.

The dance with my classmate ended in ten minutes but I still remember it. I did the right thing. God supplies the ideas and the energy it takes to stick one’s neck out. God works through us whenever we permit him. We can stand up for others when we see them as loved by Jesus Christ.  They are the poor and downtrodden, some abused girls and women, shy folks lacking self-confidence, the handicapped, the homeless, the old, and the unborn. Too often these persons are seen as inconvenient, and their intrinsic worth is ignored.

In God’s eyes every creature has a value of its own. All of these folks, as well as the fetuses, are precious. They are the Creator’s handiwork just like ourselves. All of us are equally the people of God.

What we need to learn is how —- “to see people as God sees them.”

We are all interconnected together and descended from God’s universe. Everything in the universe is linked up together on one giant webpage. We learn in Ephesians 1: 10 the Father’s plans for his Son: “to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

Dying on the cross was Jesus’ way of proving to the world that he could and would stand up for all of God’s creatures, and for his Father’s entire universe. Jesus Christ is good, one very tremendous lover, who obediently sticks to his Father’s will like glue.

Jesus actually feels as if we are worth every drop of blood he shed. He enjoys smothering us in his unconditional love. For Jesus Christ is God and God is infinite Love and Mercy.

Living in the sphere of God’s gracious love, our response should be to love him back, to give ourselves to Jesus Christ as he gives himself to us, with mutual regard and care for one’s neighbor.

If you don’t like your neighbor, and he doesn’t look like Jesus, well, take a second look and you will see Jesus standing there beside him, smiling at you.

Alton native Father Jerry Wickenhauser has Master’s degrees in spirituality from St. Louis University and sacred theology from the Gregorian University in Rome. He is a Maryknoll missionary.