How can we recognize Christ?

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

“IT is the Lord!” (Jn 21,7) That was the excited reaction of the disciple, who the gospel described as the one Jesus loved, when Christ’s disciples made an abundant catch of fish after being told by Christ, who at first the disciples did not recognize, to cast their nets over the right side of their boat. Previous to this moment, they caught nothing. And so, you can imagine how amazed they were at their catch of fish after being told by a stranger in the shore.

It is generally understood that the disciple who first recognized Christ was John himself, the writer of the gospel. In his youthful and pure heart, he was the first one to recognize the Lord. But perhaps the main question we have to ask ourselves upon considering this wonderful gospel story is: How can we recognize Christ in all moments of our life, just like how John did?

To be sure, Christ is always present in us and in the world. He can never be absent, even in our worst moments. Even when we ignore him or intentionally go against him, he will still be with us. Consider the case of St. Paul who in his campaign against the early Christians was called directly by Christ to be one of his apostles. (cfr. Act 9,1-19)

But ordinarily, we can only recognize Christ if we have the desire to do so, carrying out all the relevant tasks to convert that desire into reality. For this, we need to study the life, words and deeds of Christ as portrayed in the gospels and taught by the Church. We need to develop a growing life of piety, animated by the proper spirit and supported by some practices, like prayer, sacrifices, ascetical struggles, etc.

We have to realize that in everything that we do, the first, last and constant intention we ought to have is to look for Christ in order to find and love him. Only in this way can we be in a position to recognize Christ.

We should not just be contented with pursuing a natural or human goal in all the things we have to do, like meeting a deadline, complying with some requirements, achieving a level of efficiency, profitability, etc., which while legitimate can be dangerous if not related to the main goal of looking, finding and loving Christ.

We should be able to find Christ not only in our good and happy moments, but most especially in our difficult situations and predicaments when we are made to suffer or to feel that we are the victims, the receiving and losing end in our differences and conflicts with others.

When we manage to be humble, patient, charitable, magnanimous and merciful in these situations, we can be sure that we would be in a better position to recognize Christ in all the parties involved in our differences and conflicts.

Most importantly, we should try our best to find Christ in the ordinary little things that we deal with everyday. Let us always remember that Christ identifies himself with all things, and he has assumed everything human, no matter how that humanity turns, except sin. And even when we are in sin, he precisely gives special attention to us. Let’s never forget what he said to his disciples: “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28,20)

Let’s start by finding Christ in the little things of our day.