Seeing God’s Face In Our Neighbors – Don’t Be Judgmental!
Who among us have seen the face of God, I mean His real face? For sure, none of us have seen God in person. But still, we believe and glorify Him through prayers, we talk to Him about anything, we think of Him, and at times we can even see His image in our dreams. We’ve read about God through the Scriptures and we’ve likewise seen His image through the writings of religious scholars and artists describing Him in many forms.
But regardless of culture and religion, people see God in their own ways. Our belief in God (His being the Almighty and our Savior) is all that matters. Despite His invisibility, in our minds however, we make God visible, we can feel and trust His presence especially in our prayers. The religious icons and statues (e.g. Crucified Jesus, Blessed Mother, Saints, etc) only serve as visual aids reminding us to meditate on their holy lives on earth. We bow before these statues not as a sign of worship but of respect, just like the way we show respect to our parents and the elderly.
But how do we see God in our neighbors, especially those who are not in sync with us, those whose opinions differ from us, those who does not like us, those whom we perceive as proud and arrogant? How can we see the face of God in these kinds of people. Are we going to judge or condemn them for who they are/what they do? How can we love them?
The readings for the month of June mostly delve on our love and faith in God. Said readings primarily cause us to place our trust in God and our obedience to His Word. It is the word of God that gives us strength and stability, making our faith in Him absolute and rock-solid. And because of this strong foundation, we are given the grace to develop a friendly and loving relationship with our Lord and in return we are asked to extend the said loving relationship to our other brothers and sisters in Christ.
In the world of social media, people are becoming critical and judgmental against each other particularly in the field of politics, where biases and prejudices abound. In the context of the Covid19 pandemic, we have read/seen criticisms and complaints about the Government’s management in curtailing the spread of the virus, when we ourselves don’t have concrete solutions to the problem. At times, most of us find it easy to judge a person’s manners to the extent of resorting to various ad hominem arguments instead of addressing the argument itself. Each of us is probably guilty of judging maliciously other people without even thinking about the consequences to ourselves and most of all to the person being judged.
The Holy Father exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) encourages the Church members to be more discerning and understanding. Instead of casting out people with imperfect manners, it is stated that we should be more embracing and welcoming. Pope Francis noted that Jesus teachings serve as tenets of our daily lives, to love God and to love our neighbors with free and generous heart. The Holy Father also encourages us not only to be Christian in words but also in deeds. He advises us to be humble, to always lower ourselves without pride, in serving the Lord.
It is not only in the face of our loved ones, our friendly neighbors, our brothers and sisters in the community that we see the image and the face of God, but also in those who disagree and dislike us. We have our own faults and failures, we are far from perfect. But we can be perfect, just what our Lord told us. As the old adage says, if there’s a will, there’s a way. We just have to strive hard for it, with the grace of God. Yes, it takes a lot of effort, not an easy task. Instead of judging and condemning people, we should look first at ourselves and understand our own shortcomings and imperfections. In this manner, we will be able to understand others as well. We have to be reminded that we are all God’s children and our God does not discriminate – He loves us all regardless of our status in life – of our imperfections.
Lord God, we thank You for the gift of Your Church and for your teachings. We humbly pray that you’ll grant us every member of the Church true peace and love so that we may see the face of God in each other and in the end be able to contribute in the transformation of our Church, in the world where we live, and ourselves as well. Help us to always be faithful to Your Word. And may we be an instrument of that truth to those in need. Amen.
Jesus, I trust in You.
(ctto for the featured photo)