I want to begin today's 40 Days of Blogging post with an extended thought by Pope Francis, interspersed with the captivating photography of Lee Jeffries, the man whose tender images of homeless souls from around the planet continues to inspire me in this year's Lenten journey. To put it bluntly, I'm getting schooled by both of these men. Francis calls me to look up and truly see others - to learn their "faces and names" - and Lee offers them to me, in all of their gritty and gripping power.
"If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realize that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any satisfaction that we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, his creation..."
"God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory. Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives..."
"Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross for that person. Appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love..."
"Consequently, if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life..."
"It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people. We achieve fulfilment when we break down walls and our heart is filled with faces and names!"
- Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel, #274
Lent is, in many ways, a symbol of our entire earthly pilgrimage. It's our movement through history, our personal one with all of its ups and downs, its fog and its light, and that of the whole human family. Lent gives us a lens, a wider scope of vision, inviting us to see the whole picture of our existence, our dreams, desires, our aches and longings for intimacy, and our often futile attempts to fulfill these desires on our own. That's why we fast. We fast during Lent to focus more clearly on this desires.
If we truly fast, allowing ourselves to be stripped so that God's glance can "pierce our naked hearts" then these hollows make us hunger for faces and names. Faces and names that we can say we know, intimately, and whom we can say know us. For when Easter breaks like match-fire over this our dark history, when that Resurrection Day finally dawns, this is all that will really matter, isn't it? The faces we met, the names we came to know and learn by heart.
When Lord, did we see You cold and hungry? Ah, there all along! In the faces and names that were surrounding me... And all of these now sing as a great cloud of witnesses...
We are made for one another.
We are meant for one another.
To see more of Lee Jeffries work, visit: http://leejeffries.500px.com
To read more of Pope Francis's Joy of the Gospel, visit: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html