A Catholic Monthly Magazine

See You Mate!

By Bridget Taumoepeau

On a stunningly beautiful day I took the train to Waikanae. As we passed a millpond-calm sea, sparkling in the sun, a young man and a senior citizen struck up a conversation. It seems they did not know each other, but the older man remarked on the lovely day and the younger one replied by saying that he was looking forward to walking home from the train. Other pleasantries were exchanged, before the young man alighted with a cheerful, “See you mate!”

Now, in reality they may not see each other again and, strictly speaking, they are probably not mates, but what a great way to part – with a phrase that looks at the possibility of encountering each other again; that this meeting has bound them together in some way; that they are what the Lord would call neighbours.

Shouldn’t all our chance interactions be warm, looking to the possibility of future togetherness; linking us together in some way; offering a smile and showing that we treasure that moment?

The master of this type of interaction is Pope Francis – you can see the joy in the faces of people he meets, most of whom he does not know and will never see again, but on whom he is focused for that moment. When asked, after World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, how he coped with the crowds, he commented that he finds meeting with large groups of people difficult, and that he has to look directly at someone within that crowd. He is living out what he often talks about – the relationship of Jesus with us. Jesus who looks at all of us individually; who does not see us as one of a crowd, but as a unique person – the object of his tender love.

A little example of this was in the chance meeting of two men – one young, one old. I thank them for this, as whenever I will hear again the phrase “see you mate!”, it will cast my mind back to that expression of kindness and will make me smile.

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