Seeing the Risen Christ in Each Other: A Message from Bishop Benfield

[The following article originally appeared in the Communique on March 29, 2012.]

Photographs can present powerful images and ideas. On occasion I see one that causes me to think carefully about its message. Such was the case this week when I saw a photograph of people kneeling in prayer on the steps of the Supreme Court building and on the same day heard comments on the radio from some of those people who had gathered there. They had gathered to ask God’s intervention to overturn the law regarding health care insurance.

There are as many feelings about this health care law as there are people in this country. I am not going to get involved in a public debate over the law’s merits. For one thing, I do not have expertise in issues of medical costs and insurance. But I do feel some competence in the area of the Christian tradition. And I have to say that it disturbed me to see Christians asking for God’s intervention to stop us as a community from taking care of one another.

Too much of Christianity has turned into a very isolated, individual relationship with Jesus, when in truth Christianity had its very foundation in the profound experience of people who began to see the resurrected Christ in one another. It had been the very failure to see signs of the Holy One in others that sent Jesus to the cross.

This failure happens every day, be it in our desire to hold on to as much money for ourselves as possible, or our complicity in treating others as if their dignity is not important, as if they are not as important in the eyes of God as we are. Can we ignore the pain of such people?

I hope as we go into Holy Week we can all take a serious look at how we have failed to see the risen Christ in one another and decide that come Easter Day, our eyes will be opened to the real message of resurrection that begins to see our Lord in the most unlikely of people and situations. I want to see some photographs of Christians standing up and loving the people around them because they see the risen Christ in the guise of the hurting and poor and lonely. I will then know that Christians have finally begun to understand what Christianity—and resurrection—are all about.