The story of Abraham and the three visitors/angels is a great example of Being Present.The scripture verse that stands out to me was Genesis 18:2,
“Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.”
I believe this verse captures the essence of Being Present through welcoming by providing the three men with food and drink. Contrastingly, I wonder how often I extend this act of Being Presentoutside of my family and close circle of friends. The challenge for me is get to know people in my local and parish community. Sadly, I don’t know the neighbours who live next door or more than five or six names of the congregation at Saturday night mass. The onus is on me to go beyond the quick hello and make an effort to chat with these people.
Additionally,I was taken with Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity which depicts this scripture of the three angels who visited Abraham at the Oak of Mamre. What really stands out for me is howthe Father, Son and Holy Spirit complete the circle of the trinity in communion with one another. It caused me to reflect on how many times I go out to dinner with family and friends and they choose just to talk only to certain people or are on their mobile phones. Once again, I am confronted with ensuring I am part of the whole group by listening to others, including everyone in my conversation and putting away my mobile phone. Then I have tried to achieve metanoia an openness of heart expressed through Being Presentand to see everyone in that group as being in the presence of God.
Finally, I would like to conclude with Pope Francis extolling us to embrace Being Present.“I urge you to help transform your communities into places of welcome where all God’s children have the opportunity not simply to survive, but to grow, flourish and bear fruit.”
We can have people who go out of their way to welcome others or create the most beautiful environment but the emphasis needs to be on engaging all people who are members of our school and parish community in wanting to be active participants in our community. I have to be mindful not to make hasty decisions but take the time to consult and listen to others and without judgement which leads to a positive resolution. I believe at the heart of human relationship is being welcomed. When we encounter and trust another it is an encounter with God. Furthermore, I think that starts when each member feels a sense of belonging. This occurs when the school and parish community give them a voice that they believe is listened to and acknowledged. Moreover, they are given opportunities to contribute both outside or inside their environment, through their cultural background which is recognised either through dance or song at assemblies, special celebrations or shared meals at school or choirs and morning teas at Mass Centres. I would argue that when people are appreciated and supported for their contributions it is not only the gateway to building relationships but community.
However, as a school and parish community we still need to reach out to those people at the margins or slipping through the cracks by offering them openings to participate. Hence, we need to continue to be invitational by ensuring the opportunities are accessible to everyone. Nevertheless, I believe the best way to Be Present to people is through personal contact and witnessing the Gospel values and the virtues of Grace, Compassion, Justice, Wonder, Hope, Hospitality and Courage that Jesus modelled throughout his life.