By Jillian Zaczyk
While going grad school in Boston, I would return to Cleveland in the summers to work at a staffing agency. It was a far drive from where I was staying, but I needed the job to afford Boston’s high cost of living. This morning commute into work was anything than a point A to B. It was more an A, B, C, D, E, F. As my car halted and crawled for the majority of my forty-five minute drive. I finally pulled into the parking lot of work relieved that the battery died out (again) the moment I shifted into park.
Turning the keys of my car time and time again, it seemed like my "little-car-that-could" was no more.
Near tears concerned about the affordability and survivability of my vehicle I called Triple A, who promised to try to jump my car at my lunch break. Throughout the day I worried. I am a worrier. I worried about the cost of the almost inevitable tow, what it was going to take to fix it, if I could afford my rent that month, the utilities, etc.
Noon came, and I went outside to the parking lot where the tow truck was already on the scene. Walking around my vehicle was Jose, a man oblivious to me beside his patched on name tag. I reached out to shake his hand, he turned around, looked at me, and his eyes lit up.
Before I knew it we were in an embrace.
“Mamasita! Don’t you remember me?”
His excitement caught me off guard as I was still ridden with anxiety. “Noooo,” I slowly replied.
“You fed me. You fed me when I had no home.”
I paused. In college I fed many people every Friday night through a ministry called the Labre Project. Covering the East and Westside of Cleveland, Labre offers food and more importantly friendship to those with so very little.
“Don’t worry Mamasita I will get you out of here!”
Without another word Jose was frantically popping the hood of my vehicle, hooking things up, tightening, and rattling around until my car started. I knew anyone else would have towed me and cashed in.
Knowing this I started to cry.
Jose came up to me and said, “I do this for you because you were so kind to me when no one was.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus cannot recognize these Pharisees and scribes as faith-filled leaders because they only seem to be concerned with the minutiae of tithing and outward purity. It seems the Pharisees and scribe’s quarrel with Jesus over “stuff” that has preoccupied them from familiarizing their heart and mind with those they serve.
I can't help but ask: what “stuff” holds me back from familiarizing myself with Jesus?
Jesus reminded me that life cannot be secured by only familiarizing oneself with possessions and minutiae because I'll miss the point. I will miss the person hungry, thirsty, lonely, the face of Jesus right in front of me. I could very well miss my Savior.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jillian wants to live in a world filled with corny jokes and coffee mugs that refill themselves. She is a youth minister, teacher, and missionary discovering God's joy and humor around the world. Her mission is to encounter Jesus and grow in solidarity with everyone she meets, especially the poor. Jillian graduated in May 2015 with a Master of Theological Studies from Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry. She and her husband, Jason, live in Cleveland with their lovable labrador retriever.