I would like to begin with sharing with you a video that I saw recently. It’s about a blind man, a blind man who is outside on the street and he has a sign that says “I am blind, please help me.” And people are passing by and they don’t really notice him. They just pass by and so this lady passes as well and she actually looks at the sign and looks at him and picks up the sign and starts to write a different message.
She leaves and amazingly after that almost everybody would stop and give this man some coins, some money. On her way back, I guess after work, she stops and looks at the man and the man is wondering “What happened? What did you write on my sign?” And she says, “I wrote the same thing, only the thing is that I said it in different words.” And what she actually wrote was, “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.”
It’s amazing how our attitude, our response changes when we see people with different eyes. Just like this man, this blind man, there are many others in our world, in our society, in our community that really don’t have the opportunity to truly experience what a beautiful life it is.
The Feast of Christ the King invites us to bring Jesus to our lives. To live out our faith and so how else could we live this out by the way that He invites us to find Him in those folks, in those people that we see that need our help. It is like that blind man we also can see in the immigrant or in the poor, people that are in distress. And so, we are invited in this time to live out our faith to make a difference in the lives of others. So, for example, here at the Border right at South Texas we respond to a reality that we see every day with immigrants coming to the border of the United States. And we try to help them, we try to make sure that their dignity is restored. That they can become people that are appreciated and they can know that they are a child of God and that God loves them. And it’s done by so many people that choose to make a difference in their lives. That choose to live out their faith and to make a difference and to be there for them and welcome them and embrace them.
So we are invited not to be indifferent to suffering like it happens so much but rather to make that suffering part of who we are by welcoming them, and making a difference by reaching out and caring for them. The greatest gift that we have is the gift of love that God gives us so abundantly. What are we going to do with that love, if it isn’t to share it? And we share it with others. We share it especially with those that need us. And this is what Jesus is inviting us and wants us to do. To really be there for those that need us and those that are marginalized that are out there that really we don’t take into consideration. That we think we can just discard. And so this is an opportunity for us to really look at our faith and to begin to question: “What am I doing?” And “What can I do?” Because as followers of Jesus, the most urgent priority that we have is to see the face of God in every human being and especially those who are most vulnerable in our community because Jesus invites us to encounter Him. And we’re not going to find Jesus on the cross, we’re going to find him among us, in plain sight. He even showed us and told us how to look. He says, “You will find me. I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was in prison and you visited me.” What happens sometimes is that we are afraid. We are afraid to come out of ourselves, of our comforts. It only takes that first step, that first step that will help us encounter Jesus. And then it becomes easier after that. It is there that we find salvation. It is there that we find that kingdom of God.
Norma Pimentel, MJ
Norma Pimentel is a Sister with the Missionaries of Jesus. As Executive Director of Catholic Charities for the past 10 years, she oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of the different ministries & programs in the areas of emergency assistance, housing assistance, military assistance, clinical counseling, and pregnancy care to all four counties in the Rio Grande Valley.
She was instrumental in quickly organizing community resources to respond to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States and setting up Humanitarian Respite Centers in McAllen, Texas. These efforts captured the world’s attention, drawing news media from around the globe to cover the plight of these desperate Central American refugee families, and compelling thousands of individuals from this country and others, to contribute their time, talents, and treasures to serve and support them.
Before overseeing Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, Sister Pimentel was one of the leaders who directed Casa Oscar Romero—a refugee Shelter for Central Americans fleeing their war-torn countries. The shelter provided emergency relief and temporary housing for hundreds of thousands of refugees. Sister Norma Pimentel earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Pan American University, a Master’s degree in Theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX, and a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University in Chicago, IL.