Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI
Reflection for Sept. 25, 2022

Reflection for Sept. 25, 2022

To see others is an act of love

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?


09/21/2022 10:28 pm

Most beautiful! One of the most beautiful reflections of all, Sr. Donna. XXX OOO XXX Thank you.

Your reflection stirs in me that I share a recent encounter of "the smiling face of JESUS" directly and completely -- fully and wholly present, aware, connected with/to me.

I was downtown Green Bay, on Monroe St., right lane, entering the stop light onto Main St. A large vehicle was in the left lane, stopped at the red light. As I approached to stop, too, I had to inch up so I could see around the large truck blocking my view to make a right-hand turn.

Just as I got far enough so I could see around the truck, my eyes met the eyes and face of a tall, slender, very attractive, young black man, crossing in the crosswalk. He was not yet up to the place of the large truck, but he obviously was watching very closely and paying attention to me and my vehicle, which he would have seen approaching.

Our eyes met .... And I'm sure he could see the startled expression on my face, along with a little show of embarrassment because I had just taken a bite into an egg roll purchased at the Asian grocery store near Central library. And my mouth was full and chewing.

His smile was radiant at me. I could not re-capture it for you if I tried, but I wish I could. He, his eyes, his smile were simply beautiful and radiant, looking directly at me. I could "feel" his little chuckle as he recognized my astonishment and embarrassment, all rolled into one.

He waved in acknowledgement and simultaneously mouthed a "THANK YOU" first at me, and then to the driver of the other large vehicle.

I felt JESUS was smiling at me in that one-instant, one-second Encounter.

I felt that way especially because I have been researching Black History and all they went through in our Country.

I have also been researching the Doctrine of Discovery, and how the Indigenous Peoples of the U.S. are calling on Pope Francis to rescind it because of all the horrible and unjust pain and suffering they suffered because of it.

And I have been learning with and from the LGBTQ+ Community through OUT|LOUD @ St. Norbert College Campus.

That eye-to-eye contact with that young black man, was exactly what Sr. Donna is describing. And I also knew it really was JESUS / Christ, present, in that young man, who was looking at me, smiling at me, and even chuckling with me.


Irene Whatley
09/23/2022 10:57 am

I too think your reflection was one of the great ones. I like to smile at people in the store or wherever I see them and this hasn’t always been the case.

09/23/2022 6:00 pm

We all need to slow down our lives so we look into the eyes and faces of others.

Thank you for this wonderful reflection.

Debbie Tahany
09/24/2022 9:15 pm


Your seeminly simple insight to "look each person in the face" is a challenge of great power.



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