I have been reading a lovely book by a Presbyterian pastor in the US, called Under the Unpredictable Plant.
Wonderful lessons from him on respecting people, which I thought might be useful to share with the whole parish.
In his typically suburban American parish, Peterson reports that he lost respect for his people: they had such puny ideas about themselves; in a fast-food culture they came to him for fast-religion help. And then, he says, his reading of the famous Russian novelist Dostoevsky helped him. Dostoevsky had an almost identical society, but he refused to take people for what they seemed on the surface; he plunged beneath the surface to discover in their depths fire and passion and God.
Peterson's danger is our danger too: when we look around us, when we look at our parish or our community or even our priests, we often see only smallness and flatness and we get discouraged. But look a little longer: under what seem only ashes there are the burning embers. God is doing his work, and people are responding to him, in their own little or big ways. Running families. Being faithful to marital commitments, often despite the pain. Loving and reaching out in their own little ways which, in th end, are not so little. Retaining a measure of gentleness and kindness and thoughtfulness and faith despite the knocks and the pressures of life.
Of course there are the problems. Who does not have them. But there is also God, and there is also the beauty of the embers bursting every now and then into flame. We only need eyes to see. We need, all of us, the gospel of today: Lord, that I may see!
"The stories [of people] go unnoticed not because they are kept secret but becaue the people around are blind to God. So many eyes, glazed by television [and ears and hearts glazed by gossip and idle talk], don't see the God stories being enacted right before them...."
To have eyes to see, and ears to hear. To put on the mind of Christ.
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