“I want some of that — what Jesus is doing.”
My young son tugged at my elbow, pointing to our pastor who stood at the front of the church, praying with each person who came forward for the sacrament, anointing their heads and hands with the oil of the sick.
“I want some of that,” he insisted. “What Jesus is doing!”
I could have chuckled at his request, a classic “kids say the cutest things” comment during Mass. He was only 2 at the time, young enough to confuse the priest in flowing robes with pictures of Jesus in his children’s Bible. But his words kept me wondering, even after I explained what he was seeing.
Could his eyes — the clearer, childlike eyes of faith — catch what mine couldn’t?
A theology professor of mine used to teach this wise maxim to his Scripture classes: “If it happened back then, it’s happening now.” Meaning that we should keep our eyes open wide to see God at work in the world today. We need to remember that the Bible tells not ancient history but ever-present reality.
What was Jesus doing in Scripture? Healing the sick. Forgiving sinners. Teaching the crowds. Comforting the grieving. Preaching good news.
Everything God continues to do in our world today.
What if we approached each Mass, each Scripture story and each moment of prayer with this same longing and eagerness? “I want some of that — what Jesus is doing.”
My son’s words have remained with me over the years, a refrain for seeing the world with eyes of faith. His recognition of the holy and his desire for Jesus remind me to look from his level.
God works through our ordinary lives in moments so small we can miss them. Cooking breakfast for the ones we love. Baking bread. Washing feet. Sweeping the floor. Sitting with a sick child. Holding a baby.
Jesus did (or taught about) these ordinary actions, weaving them into his parables and preaching. The same moments that fill my days as a parent. The same tasks I’ve watched my friends do over and over, in small or heroic ways in their own homes.
Washing children’s feet at bath time after long days as a nurse and raising money to give other children access to clean water.
Cooking hot breakfasts for their family on a tight budget and baking a year’s worth of pastries as a gift for a parish fundraiser.
Sweeping floors three times a day with toddlers underfoot and launching letter-writing campaigns to sweep the church clean from abuse scandals and cover-ups.
Sitting up long nights with kids with special needs and sitting down to dinner with other mothers to help them know they aren’t alone.
Waiting to hold a baby after multiple miscarriages and welcoming foster children into an already full home.
When I look at my friends’ lives, I want some of all of this — what Jesus is doing, in and through them.
Picture the friends you know who nudge you closer to God. Friends whose ordinary love and service for neighbors and strangers has changed you. Friends whose faithful prayer or prophetic witness made you dig deeper into discipleship.
How do they spur you on toward a life that could make a toddler tug at a parent’s sleeve, point and say, “I want some of that — what Jesus is doing”?
Over the years, I have come to marvel at the mysteries of God at work in the world, but only because others taught me to see. They believe in the abundant presence of God. They model the Christian life in quiet, common ways.
But it took a child to lead me. To see God in the work of their hands.
Laura Fanucci is a mother, writer and director of a project on vocation at the Collegeville Institute in Collegeville, Minnesota. She is the author of several books, including “Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting,” and blogs at www.motheringspirit.com.