Nathan Ahearne considers our need to take a deeper look at the dignity of each person we meet.
As I stood in a crowded bus, a passenger boarded and was offered a seat by a younger person. It was clearly the end of a long day for her, as she slumped into the seat and placed a crutch to one side. She began talking to another passenger in a way that said they knew each other.
As the conversation went on, it became obvious that it was mostly one-sided, with just a nod of the head from the string of passengers she spoke to. The conversations were in a foreign language, but a few choice expletives matched with hand gestures and tone, implied that the content was more than idle conversation about the weather. As the bus began to empty, I felt a sense of relief when my stop arrived, because I had managed to avoid an awkward interaction with this gregarious person.
Have you ever had that experience where you were suddenly aware of that one person who didn’t fit in and whom everyone was passively (or actively) trying to avoid? This has happened to me in public setting, church gatherings, school parent groups and social events. It’s a special type of person who rises above their own feelings of discomfort to consider the needs of the stranger, the unfamiliar, the alien within our midst. Yet, this is at the core of what it means to be a Christian. The gospels are full of examples of Jesus compelling his disciples to gravitate to the lost, the least and the lonely.
The next day, I was walking to the shops in a densely populated area and as I made my way across a pedestrian crossing, I walked straight past her again. Firstly, it was surprising to bump into this person in such a large and unfamiliar city and secondly, because as she crossed the road, I realised her crutch was actually a walking stick for vision impairment. My impression was completely changed as I watched her pass by, cautiously tapping the ground on her way to the hospital. I felt like I was being given a second chance to take a deeper look at the dignity of this person, created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).
Is it possible to feel like a stranger within our own families? A major challenge of raising our family has been the acceptance and appreciation of the unique personalities, needs and desires of each of our children. One size does not fit all in our household, and this goes for us as parents too. The celebration and honouring of this diversity takes place when we pay attention to the little clues that our children offer us. On many occasions, what I’ve initially assumed to be a crutch (bad behaviour) has turned out to be a walking stick (cry for help) from my child. A deeper, loving look was required.
Pope Francis invites us to consider how Jesus gazes upon us. How does Jesus look at me? With a call? With forgiveness? With a mission? He always looks at us with love, asks us for something, forgives us for something and gives us a mission. It is enough to place ourselves under the gaze of God, to remember His fatherly love and let ourselves be gazed upon by Our Lady. When she gazes upon us, she does not see sinners but children.
What is God trying to reveal to you today?
Does someone in your life need a second loving look?
What does Jesus see as He gazes upon you?
Copyright 2022 Nathan Ahearne
About the Author
Nathan Ahearne's faith journey has helped to shape the person he is today as husband, father, teacher and formator of young people. His vocation and faith are strengthened and nourished by those he encounters in service and contemplation. Nathan is a creative thinker and likes to roll up his sleeves and see projects through to completion. He is a John 10:10 fan. Read more at Expressions of Interest.