Marvin was a tailor, as had been his father and his grandfather before him. When the building where his family’s tailor shop was located was torn down, Marvin took a job working for a men’s clothing store on the other side of town. Marvin was a good tailor and his customers followed him. In fact, as his reputation spread, people came to him in even greater numbers than before.
When someone came in to purchase a new suit they would ask for Marvin. They knew they could trust him to help pick out exactly the right fabric in just the right color. The store manager would call Marvin from his tiny office in the back of the store. Marvin would rush in wearing a suit that was shiny and worn and a shirt tucked half in and half out with chalk and pincushion in hand and oblivious to his own appearance, he would begin his work. He worked silently, but it was a comfortable silence, the kind of silence that seemed to invite people to talk. Marvin was a good listener. Marvin listened to the customers’ stories and through hearing their stories it was as though he was clothing not only their bodies but their souls as well. In Marvin’s hands an overcoat became more than just a garment to be put on and taken off again. Instead, it was as if the wearer was being warmed on the inside and would never be cold in quite the same way again.
John the Baptist was sent from God “… to testify to the light …” Where someone else saw only a man crying out in the wilderness, God saw a prophet. Where someone else saw only a customer, Marvin saw an opportunity to help another human being to become more of what they were called by God to be. Where someone else saw only a tailor, God saw a man who “… brought glad tidings to the poor …” and “heal[ed] the brokenhearted …” What do people see when they look at me? What does God see?
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.