Thursday, February 20, 2014

“There is no Them. There are only facets of Us.”

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” ― Mother Teresa, A Simple Path

Scripture Text: (JAS 2:1-9)
My brothers and sisters, show no partiality
as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes
comes into your assembly,
and a poor person with shabby clothes also comes in,
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes
and say, “Sit here, please,”
while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,”
have you not made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.
Did not God choose those who are poor in the world
to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom
that he promised to those who love him?
But you dishonored the poor.
Are not the rich oppressing you?
And do they themselves not haul you off to court?
Is it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you?
However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.
But if you show partiality, you commit sin,
and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

The challenge today after reading the passage from St. James, I believe, is to translate the extreme example noted in the reading to more subtle ways we may marginalize those around us. How often can we see God in those who we may have a conflict or a disagreement with? Do we judge and show partiality based on the more insidious cues of our culture like external appearance, perceived intelligence, smooth talking or social charm and miss seeing God in our neighbor? It is relatively speaking, easier in the contrast of rich and poor as described by James (gold rings and fine clothes versus shabby clothes) but far more challenging to be in true union with those who may appear to be of a similar status to us.

“Who do you say I am?”(Mark 8:27-33) Jesus asks Peter.

How shall we answer that essential question that is the foundation of our faith? Perhaps more important is how that answer influences how we listen to the words of Jesus and in turn how we respond to those words in the way we treat our neighbor.

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