During this pandemic, I have been walking around the city more than ever. It is an eye opening experience to see people from all walks of life, walking as if they are in a hurry or on a mission, and they don’t have the ability or desire to look at you in the eyes. How one walks says much about their inner disposition.
There are others walking in a calm manner, individually or with another, perhaps walking a dog. We glance at each other, nod or say “hi,” and walk on. Since we are wearing masks, we are unable to see the smiles that are likely there. As I think about Halloween, I think of masks, scary ones or funny ones. Pandemic masks speak something much different: concern and compassion for the stranger.
As I walk, I notice the people referred to by Jesus in today’s gospel, as well as, in many other places in the gospel. The people who are usually sitting on the sidelines begging. Some of them holding up signs reading, “I’m a veteran, please help,” or “I am hungry.”
To see these individuals and to look at them in their eyes is to pause in the walk and be inconvenienced. These are the lowest ones that God calls to higher places of honor, simply by our acknowledgment of their humanity.
As I walk in the city, the more attention I pay to those on my path, the more I encounter Christ. Being last, being humble creates an opening in one’s spirit that expands mind and heart. Those who are lowest become those in places of honor... in the heart of the church... in the heart of Christ.
On this Halloween, I want to walk more contemplatively, “seeing” the wonderful costumes, smiling underneath the mask. The wearing of masks reminds me of the masks I wear to show my importance, my position, if you will. These masks are created by the ego and they blind us to our true self.
Ironically, on this Halloween, we must remove these frightening ego masks and allow humility to cover our gaze. When we wear the mask of humility, nothing is hidden and our true humanity shines forth. And then and only then will we hear God inviting us to higher places of honor, “Come into my kingdom. For I was hungry and you fed me in feeding my poor; I was thirsty and you have a cup of fresh cold water to my least one; I was a stranger and you welcomed me in the refugee, at the soup kitchen, in the church; I was sick and you visited someone in the hospital.”
Peace. Happy Halloween!!!