You just have to just love this Pope Francis guy...
I say this because of a thought provoking NY Times article that I think warrants being shared. Summed up in the title is the Pope’s take on giving to those less fortunate…
I think for many and certainly myself, but regardless of your faith view, the question of how do I see other people – do I see some groups of other people as less than – or can I honestly say I always see all people as equal is not something I get a perfect report card on.
Do I really see them as my faith teaches, as being made in the image of god – Imago Dei? Because if I truly saw people – all people – in that way, then I could never see them as “less than”.
In this conversation with the Pope, the challenge especially when dealing with the homeless as some of the poorest of the poor I will encounter on a regular basis, is do I see them at all? The truth is sometimes I do, and sometimes I do not. Sometimes I can barely utter words as though somehow not responding at all means the interaction is not happening. Sometimes I can spare a few bucks or food I’m carrying (leftovers usually – feeling good about sharing the scraps from my table…). Occasionally I stop to talk. And in the rarest instances, I find the time to share that most precious of gifts - some time and a meal.
Things have an odd way of circling around. We talked about this subject with a group of friends from our church in the evening. I liked what one friend said about there being a tension - did I do too little - did I do too much - am I helping - can helping be hurting. I can second guess myself endlessly. This tension was something you could sense in many if not all our experiences.
Personally, I think it is both fantastic but also sometimes a real bummer to realize the tension – it seems that recognizing the tension itself creates more tension. I do sometimes find myself, driving in traffic for example (a place I’m highly prone to be judgmental and thinking less of others), muttering to myself "image of god - imago dei", alternating with "unforced rhythms of grace... unforced rhythms of grace". I also at times mutter other things... the struggle is real! I think it is the "unforced" part that for me keeps the tension from becoming overwhelming without in anyway denying it. Is it enough... maybe not... maybe for today it is. But if it is forced - then there is less room for grace. In the end, there was grace enough for today - tomorrow there may be more, there may be less, but for today, it is enough.
So, to summarize…
Imago Dei – we are all made equal, and in my view, in the image of a creator god.
See people – as people – really see them, take some time and see beneath the outward appearance.
Do what you feel you can, do it with grace, and don’t worry about whether or not you nailed it today – learn from it what you can for tomorrow is another day.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Jesus (Matthew’s Good News, Chap. 11, verses 28-30)