“My life has had a single strain: to see Jesus in every human being” (Eileen Egan)
Eileen Egan (1912-2000), an advocate for respecting the dignity of humans and peace, wielded her influence from her involvement with Catholic Relief Services through her helping to found Pax Christi. These experiences formed her ethic of life: to see Jesus in every human being.
She was close friends with Dorothy Day and Mother Theresa. In fact she wrote a biography of Mother Theresa’s life. She also became a trusted advisor to the bishops at the Vatican Council, influencing their condemnation of proliferation of Nuclear Arms. Her advocacy for Christian nonviolence spurred the bishops to include her thoughts in their pastoral letter on peace in 1983. She coined the phrase “seamless garment” to refer to a consistent ethic of life, which became a part of an initiative began by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
Her challenge to all of us: to see Jesus in every human being is the essential message of today’s gospel. “The Good Samaritan” is the model for all of us to follow. He saw a person suffering and without hesitation tended to his wounds and got him to safety. He was not concerned about his own self, who it was he was aiding, whether he was the same ethnicity as him, whether he was breaking any laws…he took care of his neighbor.
What about us? How do we react to a similar situation? Are we more concerned about our own well being? Might the person be playing possum, waiting to turn on us? Might he be part of a gang to set us up to be robbed? Might he have an infectious disease? Or do we see in him the face of Jesus, and take care of him?
Unfortunately, in today’s world, we seem to have lost that concern for ‘the other”. They don’t think like us, they don’t have our same values, they are a different ethnicity. So we let them be, ignore them , let them take care of themselves. How well do we know our own neighbors? Are we there for them? Do they know we are? Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives, that we ignore the life going on around us. Eileen Egan sets a great example: see Jesus in every human being! That’s what we must do.
Deacon Lee E. Packard