There are no strangers, only brothers and sisters in Christ
by Sister Donna Koch
In Sunday's Gospel St. Luke would have us reflect on the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
The rich man can be all or any one of us. He/she can be that part of us which we do not yet know or do not want to know. We can hurt others out of our own sense of insecurity when we ignore them. This comes at a cost because it cuts us off from our own capacity to love. Some would say we are conditioned to treat the other as stranger. However, love calls us to see no stranger in the face of the other.
If someone is primed to look at the face of another as belonging to a person; if they are primed to wonder: “I wonder what that person is going to eat for dinner, I wonder what breaks their heart, I wonder what their story is,” they are making an active choice to see the person as no longer a stranger.
A practice that can be helpful is to say to oneself “sister, brother, father, mother, friend, aunt, uncle, neighbor” to the faces seen on the street corner, in the store, at work, in the neighborhood, at the drive-thru, in the restaurant, in the clinic, etc. If one makes this an active practice that is repeated, it becomes an orientation of the world toward wonder ... the wonder of another human being.
To see the wonder of another is the primary act in the labor of love. It can lead to empathy as we open our hearts and begin to truly listen and share and grieve with one another. This kind of wondering will lead our feet to move and respond when another is in distress. Then the words of Paul to Timothy in today’s first reading are lived by us: pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Then we won’t have to worry about the words of Amos the prophet in the second reading: “Woe to the complacent.”
The rich man was so caught up in himself that he missed the opportunity to see the face of another as the wonder of God. Have I missed any opportunities lately? What direction of love do I need to take?