Saint Christopher Magallanes, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs
“If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (Mark 9:22)
Sirach 2:1-11; Psalm 37:3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40; Mark 9:14-29
These are probably among the most challenging words in the Gospels. We all know that we are supposed to serve—but to be the servant of all? It’s easy to be virtuous around someone we are comfortable with. But what about looking after people who are different from us? They may be from different cultures, different faith traditions, or they may have different values. They may have disabilities or illnesses that frighten us. Or they may simply be unpleasant people. If we think long enough about it, we may ask ourselves, “Just how am I supposed to do this?”
Actually, we don’t have to look far for the answer. Jesus, the great teacher, gave us a “visual aid” to help us understand him. He used a child to remind us that those we think of as being least, last, or different are really very close to him. In fact, bearing God’s image and likeness, these “least” are really Jesus in disguise (Mark 9:37). He could have used an elderly person, a beggar, or a troubled soul, but the point is the same: anything we do for them is done for him (Matthew 25:40). Jesus is not telling us to run out and start ministering to everyone we meet. But he is clearly challenging us to examine the way we look at people. If we see him in the face of our neighbors—be they rich or poor, healthy or ailing—we won’t worry about whether we are “great” or “small” in the kingdom of heaven. We won’t see service as something to be endured but rather as something to be enjoyed.
If you’re having a real problem finding the Lord in a neighbor, perhaps you need to find him in yourself first. If you’re tired of trying to love on your own strength, ask the Lord to fill you with his strength and mercy. The light of his Spirit shining upon you will transform your vision. People that you find disagreeable will become easier to love. You will have a compassion for them you never had before. As a contemporary song goes, “Nothing looks the same through the eyes of love!”
“Lord, give me your eyes, that I may see my neighbors as you see them. Give me your heart, that I may love them with your love.”~WAU