Lent Week Four
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Based on your personal experience, what do you think are the primary reasons for such things as bigotry and prejudice?
The Kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21). From this we learn that by a heart made pure, we see in our own beauty the image of the godhead. You have in you the ability to see God. He who formed you put in your being an immense power. When God created you, hen enclosed in you the image of his perfection, as the mark of a seal is impressed on wax. But your straying has obscured God’s image. You are like a metal coin: on the whetstone the rust disappears. The coin was dirty, but now it reflects the brightness of the sun and shines in its turn.
Like the coin, the inward part of the personality, called the heart by our Master, once rid of the rust that hid its beauty, will rediscover the first likeness and be real. So when people look at themselves they will, see in themselves the One they are seeking. And this is the joy that will fill their purified hearts. They are looking at their own translucency and finding the model in the image. When the sun is looked at in a mirror, even without any raising of the eyes to heaven, the sun’s brightness is seen in the mirror exactly as if the sun’s disc itself were being looked at.
You cannot contemplate the reality of the light; but if you rediscover the beauty of the image that was put in you at the beginning, you will obtain within yourself the goal of your desires. The divine image will shine brightly in us in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory throughout all ages.
Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies on the Beatitutes, 6 (PG 44, 1270). Cited by Oliver Clement, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, New City Press, 1995, 237. Gregory is one of the great Fathers of the Church, born in 335. He was a poet, theologian and bishop of the town of Nyssa – in modern day: Turkey. He died in 394).
Do you believe non-Christians and non-believers are made in the image and likeness of God?
Do your feelings match your theoretical judgement in this matter?
Listen non-judgementally to any feelings of prejudice or bigotry you may discover in yourself. Face those feelings with honesty. Hand them over to God with the prayer:
“Father into your hands I commit my spirit.”
Repeat the prayer for those who are the object of your bigotry or prejudice.
“For those who serve the greater cause may make the cause serve them, still doing right.”
(T S Eliot)