How many times a day do we respond to the needs of another and then step back and wonder if, possibly, we could have been more attentive, more patient, more loving, more sensitive? How might we feel if we were to revisit the encounter and imagine that the person who sought our help was Jesus. Most of us would probably be eager to meet whatever need Jesus presented to us and we, very likely, would be quick to inquire as to whether there might be anything else we could do to assist him.
How often we share the same fate as St. Mary Magdalen in today's Gospel: we are looking at Jesus and we do not recognize him. Mary was weeping and so preoccupied with finding the body of Jesus that she failed to recognize him speaking to her. How often are we so preoccupied with the task at hand, our own work, our plans for the day, etc., that we fail to see the Lord's presence in those around us?
The great Carmelite St. John of the Cross is said to have been washing the feet of a beggar when the wounds of the stigmata appeared on his feet. Instead of being surprised, the holy man looked up at the beggar and said, "So, it is you my Lord." Perhaps our encounters with those around us -- especially those who need our help or ask for our time -- would be more fruitful experiences if we asked for the grace to see the Lord's presence in our neighbor.
Sometimes our broken, sinful nature can conceal the presence of the Lord in us and in those around us. Performing an act of charity for someone who is suffering may be difficult because it may not be received graciously. From time to time we reach out to someone in the hope of being thoughtful and anticipating a need only to find that our generosity is neither welcome nor appreciated. In these moments it can be difficult to find the Lord in those whom we serve. The wall of our humanity can veil the gentle features of Lord's presence. Earnestly seeking the Lord in those around us can mean the difference between doing a chore and performing an act of love.