I was reading the Washington Post on Monday, fascinated by one of the editorials: E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s “Profane President, Penitent Pope” proved more interesting than this simple title. Dionne mentioned that our president does not apologize for anything (this is the last time I will refer to President Trump). Dionne continues with comments on Pope Francis, “First, he did something that comes very hard to most public figures, and particularly to the current occupant of the White House: He apologized fervently for ‘grave errors.’”
Admission of misdeeds is important in a complete person. We are born into a world of shadows, where truth is many times optional. The pope also mentioned that we “waste precious time, being caught up in superficial information and instant communication.” How much of this is truly affecting our minds, our relationships with family and friends?
Jesus admonished us when he stated that the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. My query is that it is difficult for us to identify the person with whom we are dealing. All of us are affected by those outside influences that bombard us on a daily basis. We have to look beyond the facades that we post to exist in this topsy-turvy world we have created. As we examine our own inner selves, so must we examine those around us. For example, we cannot be offended when a coworker, or a family member, or a friend snaps at us. We do not know what has negatively affected him. We cannot know the stressors that are holding him hostage.
We cannot completely judge a person by the outward persona. We must take the time to dig through the falseness of their projected image, finding the person that God brought into this world, just as we do with our own persona.
This grave error we make in our relations with others is divorcing ourselves from brotherly love. We are all related in God’s world. Our brothers and sisters are wandering the world, looking for a safe haven to raise their families and turn their frustration into love for their neighbors, as we must do.
In the Old Testament (Leviticus to pinpoint this) is the statement that we must accept the stranger at our door and not oppress him because he looks or talks differently than we do. I am a white American; according to God’s law, the dark-skinned, Urdu-speaking family that moves into my neighborhood or sits behind me in church is related to me in the most basic way. We are living there with our families to nurture them and give them the chance to succeed, as this neighbor is doing, as we are doing. We have entered the church to praise God and receive that comfort and elation that only a house of God offers. As we leave the church, we wish that the feeling of openness, love, and ease would stay with us throughout the week. Normally, it does not.
We can keep this euphoria by looking at that family, open our arms and our homes, accepting them as brothers and sisters, or at a minimum fellow travelers who are struggling to find their way, or, to find The Way.
May God help us do this.