The Temptation with Familiarity

Friday, March 31, 2017

Reflection for Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Saints for Today

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Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from.  Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.”  John 7:28

Sometimes the more familiar we are with someone the harder it is to actually see their goodness and the presence of God in their lives.  Often, we are tempted to look at them and presume we “know all about them.”  As a result, what we can often do is simply highlight their faults and weaknesses in our minds and see them only through the lens of these faults and weaknesses. 

This is what happened with Jesus.  When Jesus went up to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, there were some there who knew Him.  They probably knew Him as this ordinary son of a carpenter.  Perhaps they were even from His home town.  As a result of this familiarity with Jesus they immediately doubted He could be the Messiah.  But they were, of course, very mistaken.

This presents a great lesson for us.  It’s the lesson of being judgmental and overly critical of others we know well.  The more we know about someone the more we will be aware of their faults and weaknesses.  And if we are not careful, we will focus in on those qualities rather than on the good qualities God wants us to see.

This is what happened with Jesus.  No, He did not have any actual bad qualities.  He was perfect.  But there were most likely many parts of His life that invited the false judgment and criticism of others.  His self-confidence, the authority He manifested in His teaching, the extraordinary compassion He had toward sinners, etc., were all exceptional qualities that some could not understand.  And, as a result, they chose to be critical.  “We know where He is from,” they said.  In other words, they did not think that someone they knew could be filled with greatness.

What do you think about those around you?  What do you think about those closest to you?  Are you able to see beyond any apparent weakness they have and see the hand of God at work?  Are you able to see beyond the surface and see the value and dignity of their lives?  When you can see the goodness of others, point it out, and be grateful for it, you will actually be seeing and loving the manifest goodness of God.  God is alive and active in every soul around you.  It is your responsibility to see that goodness and love it.  This takes true humility on your part but, in the end, it’s a way of loving God in your midst.

Reflect, today, upon how you look at those who are closest to you and spend some time trying to ponder the ways that God is alive in their lives.  If you do this, you will be loving God in your very midst.

Lord, I do love You.  Help me to see and love You in others.  And help me to shed any temptation I have toward being judgmental and humbly be drawn into the goodness of all Your sons and daughters.  I love You, dear Lord, may I also love You in others.  Jesus, I trust in You.

40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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