What do we do when we encounter people who are different than us? People have different skin colours, beliefs, values, and upbringings. They live in different parts of the city, country or world than us. Sometimes a couple of questions into a conversation we start to form judgments about the person with whom we are talking–what do you do/where do you work, where did you grow up–and we miss the opportunity for seeing God standing in front of us.
Today’s Gospel from John 1 has Nathanael ask a pointed question when told the Messiah is from a certain place: Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip challenges him to come and see. Nathanael is converted quite quickly when he meets Jesus but how many of us jump to conclusions? Can anything good come out of the North End? Can any politician be honest? Can that tattooed kid over there have a glimmer of goodness within? I have seen lots of goodness come from the North End. I do know seemingly honest politicians. That tattooed kid is kind.
Nathanael believed because Jesus told him he saw him sitting under a fig tree. We want to encounter miracles before we put away our judgments and prejudices. What if instead we sought God in each person we met and hoped to learn some lesson to make us a better person? What if we tried to crawl inside the other’s skin for a brief moment to gain insight? Would we recognize the Divine any faster if we looked past our preconceived ideas? Today’s Gospel is an invitation to catch our own limited vision and try to be more inclusive. I am going to try this out as much as I can this week as we begin a New Year.
How often do you judge other people throughout the course of the day?
What would happen if you gave people the benefit of the doubt and looked for the good?
You who came from the wrong side understand when people judge us. Help me to seek the good in each person I meet and keep an open mind. May I listen with a compassion heart and an open mind to see what gift I may receive from this reflection of you. Amen.