Live the Image

Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, what is ugly, what is distorted. Christ looked at everyone he met, at the prostitute, at the thief, and saw the beauty hidden there. Perhaps it was distorted, perhaps damaged, but it was beauty none the less, and what he did was to call out this beauty.” – Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

We are created in the image of God, the beauty of which Metropolitan Anthony speaks.  We’ve heard that over and over, maybe to the point that we don’t take it as seriously as we should – but truly believing this impacts how we live.  The problem, however, is not necessarily that we don’t believe it, but that we forget it.

We forget it when someone continually wrongs us (or someone we love) and we harbor hatred in our heart. We forget it when we take pleasure in another’s misfortunes when we believe they deserve it.  We forget it when we look down on the poor because of choices they’ve made.  We forget it when we desire vengeance for those who have committed horrible crimes.  We forget it when we gossip.

Attempting to see the beauty in someone who has wronged us never justifies their bad behavior, but it does change us.  Seeing people as Christ saw others helps us to live the image in which we were created and it produces the kind of compassion needed to change the world.

After Steve Stephens broadcast his murder of Robert Godwin on Facebook, Godwin’s daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines said this of Stephens:  “Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer. We want to wrap our arms around him.”

This is breathtaking faith.  “Wrap our arms around him”? Would that we all could do that, but I’m not sure I’m there yet.  What I do know is that the only way someone could express that sentiment is because they refuse to forget that even the greatest of sinners are beautifully made in the image of God.

Living the Beatitudes

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017

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Sometimes I wonder what this world will look like when my children get to be my age. Everything seems to be changing so rapidly and much of that change doesn’t seem to be for the good. I do think in some ways the Church is experiencing a resurgence and strengthening, but it will have to in the face of an increasing culture of atheism and selfishness.

Of course, I bet my parents wondered the same thing when I was a child. As much as things change, they remain the same. When Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, I would guess some parents there were having the same kind of worries. But Jesus proposed a way of life in the Beatitudes that was counter cultural then and is counter cultural now.

In his book, Life of Christ, Fulton Sheen said this: “The Sermon on the Mount is so much at variance with all that our world holds dear that the world will crucify anyone who tries to live up to its values.” Living a stewardship way of life means bringing the Beatitudes into our daily lives in a profound way. However, it also means living in a way that others may not understand or they may even turn away from us because of it. But with the reward in the end being the Kingdom of Heaven, the choice is really a matter of life and death, eternally speaking.