Smell is an interesting thing. It can invoke images and emotions like none of the other senses can. It’s a subtle, yet powerful encounter. The smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls brings to mind my Mom’s house and the wonderful memories of Thanksgiving. The smell of oil and grease and dirt brings up memories of many summers spent on the farm of my grandparents. The smell of a nursing home can remind one of a loved one who has passed away. I love the smell of incense at church. It conjures up images of what it may have been like to be in present with Jesus and his disciples.
Pope Francis said in one of his early homilies that a priest should smell like his sheep. It is a call for priests for sure but has implications for all of us who wish to serve Christ. We have to be willing to be out among the people to serve those who may not ‘smell’ like us. To take this a step further, what do we smell like? When someone come up to us what do they smell? What should we smell like?
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the odor of the knowledge of him in every place. For we are the aroma of Christ for God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to the latter an odor of death that leads to death, to the former an odor of life that leads to life. Who is qualified for this? For we are not like the many who trade on the word of God; but as out of sincerity, indeed as from God and in the presence of God, we speak in Christ. 2 Cor 2:14-17
We are called to spend time with Jesus, simple as that, spend time with him. Time in prayer, reading the scriptures, adoration, and the mass. Through these channels we will take on the odor of Christ which leads to life and away from the odor of death. So, yes, we need to spend time with other to the point that we smell like them but we must take the odor of Christ with us and give that gift to others.