Pointing to Jesus

The other afternoon, I had stopped home to our convent to finish up some last minute details; we had guests coming in that evening, and I wouldn’t have another chance to take care of things before hand since my shift as the evening receptionist would soon be starting.

I happened to notice our Franciscan congregation’s newsletter still laying on the kitchen table; I had not yet had a chance to read it.  Since I had a little time before I was due back at work, I picked it up and began looking it over.  One article which had caught my interest posed a question: “In what I do, am I pointing to Jesus?”

This question struck a chord in my heart, and led me to some self-examination. What an important thing to ask myself!

I work in a Catholic healthcare setting and belong to a religious congregation, but do I truly, on a daily basis, point to Jesus?  On the exterior, my duties as a receptionist, aide, sacristan, and communications assistant in a setting such as ours should be Christ-centered and lead toward Him.  However, that article’s question made me think a little more deeply.  Am I carrying out my duties and interacting with others in such a way as to truly point to Jesus?  Am I showing each person love, care, and attention as Jesus would?

My thoughts soon turned to Mary, Jesus’ mother and ours.  My community’s directives extol us to keep her example “ever before our eyes.”  Mary pointed to Jesus, her Son, as no other person ever has or will.  At the wedding in Cana, she told the servers: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).  She referred to herself as “the handmaid of the Lord,” (Luke 1:38) never looking for honors but humbly focusing on Him. At countless times in history, she has appeared around the world, reminding people to turn to her Son.

In our own personal lives, Mary will continue pointing to her Son and leading us to Him, if we let her.  A beautiful way we can take Mary’s guiding hand is by praying the rosary.  In this powerful prayer, as St. John Paul II stated in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, we contemplate the face of Christ with Mary.  Focusing on various events (mysteries) from Christ’s life, we walk with Mary through the decades, letting her “point” us to her Son.

During this month of October, we might renew our commitment to the daily rosary.  If we are already praying it, we might consider trying to deepen our prayer, perhaps incorporating scripture into this meditation.  If we’re not sure where to start, there are various resources available that offer scripture verses corresponding to the different mysteries.

When I struggle with a situation or when I am dealing with a difficult person in my life, I like to turn to Mary.  She was human and she assuredly had struggles of her own.  Mary can teach me how to love as I should; she can point me to Jesus in my difficult circumstance.  She can beg for me the grace I need.  Along with “Our Lady of the Rosary,” another beautiful Marian title is “Mary Undoer of Knots.”  Our Lady can help get rid of those knots that obstruct our way as I try to journey ever closer to her Son.  She has been in the habit of untying harmful knots for a long time.  In fact, she helped undue the “knot” of Eve’s disobedience, as St. Irenaeus recognized centuries ago. The devotion to Mary Undoer of Knots draws from a 16th century German painting, but is still very relevant today.

Yet today, in 2017, each of us has troubles and problems that require a mother’s tender yet skilled hands.  Next time you face a troublesome knot that you just can’t seem to get undone, turn to Mary.  Her hands, so skillful at pointing us to her Son, can also help untie the most troublesome knots, be they be strained relationships, work issues, or other challenges.

I pray that Mary, this pure, beautiful “handmaid of the Lord” may help us on our way, that our lives may truly “point to Jesus” as hers did.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann

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Sr. Christina serves at St. Anne's Guest Home, an assisted living-type facility in Grand Forks, North Dakota. There, she helps in a variety of roles, including receptionist, sacristan, activities, and occasional personal care aide. Along with these duties, she also manages the web page for the facility, writes their weekly blog, and edits their resident newsletter. Sr. Christina also authors "Our Franciscan Fiat" , the blog for her religious community of Dillingen Franciscan Sisters in North Dakota. She also finds time for embroidery, baking, biking and liturgical music. Before entering religious life, she received a bachelor of arts in written communication, with some coursework also in graphic arts and theology.

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