Our pilgrimage leader bumped into an old friend today…atop the Mount of Beatitudes — best-selling author James Martin SJ.
Fr. Jim pretty much qualifies as a rock star, at least in Jesuit circles. Widely quoted across popular media outlets, the Editor-at-large for America magazine has more than 235,000 followers on Twitter.
Though he’d be much too gracious to make note, that’s roughly 245X the number who follow our leader’s tweets (@putthoff); and a mere 400X who follow my own (@with_us_still) 😝.
Many in our party have read Fr. Jim’s NYT bestseller Jesus: A Pilgrimage, so it turned into a bit of a happening when Fr. Jeff had Fr. Jim stop by to greet us just before our Mass was about to begin.
Just about every cell phone camera started clicking: We all wanted to preserve the memory of our close encounter with this celebrity Jeb.
As the shutters clicked, it occurred to me that there was One among us who was being even more gracious than Fr. Jim.
Jesus, the Lord, waited patiently for the mini-frenzy to abate on the mountain He Himself had made famous.
Eventually, we collected ourselves…and re-centered our hearts…so that we could enter into the sacred mysteries of the Mass.
And so, the first beatitude played out for us in real-time:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”
The Master had become poor in spirit just then — sharing the spotlight (perhaps even relinquishing it entirely for a moment), so that we could focus instead on one of His servants.
And curiously, the kingdom of heaven was made present. We got a taste of what it must have been like for Jesus in Galilee: Fans pressing in, seeking to be close to this famous dude. Hearts filled with joy, when he then sends a little unexpected love our way.
So hey, Fr. Jim, thanks for being such a good sport today.
And just so you know: I saw Christ in you, up there on the mountain of beatitudes. And I will gladly keep you (as well as the group of pilgrims you’re leading) in my prayers!
Let us remember that we are in the presence of the Holy and Merciful One.