Appearances can often be quite bogus, yet it is up to us whether we allow ourselves to be deceived or not. Today’s video offers an interesting insight regarding the look of an apostle towards others: each one of us must be able to see the other person for who they are, stepping beyond the merely exterior facade.
It is unfortunate to see evangelizers that judge by appearances. They are often scandalized by the moral behavior, perturbed by lack of manners, put off by secular attitudes. The “smell of the sheep” is repulsive to them. Still, they may perhaps overcome their inner insecurity and virtuously work to help these people. They do so, however, trying to “fix” them, carving away the extra weight and polishing up the chipped parts.
Still, they may perhaps overcome their inner insecurity and virtuously work to help these people. They do so, however, trying to “fix” them, carving away the extra weight and polishing up the chipped parts.
Doing so has its purpose and is a necessary work. It can’t, however, bear any fruit without a step that precedes it: seeing the person for who they are, looking past the appearance, looking past the wounds and blemishes. These blemishes and character flaws can be bothersome, but who are we to judge? We are all sinners and salvation comes from Christ, not us. Still, we are called to work together for holiness which necessarily requires that the “old self” die so that the “new self” may come to life in full splendor.
An apostle whose vision is one of faith, one founded and nurtured daily in intense prayer, is thus able to penetrate such superficial obstacles and “capture” a deeper dimension. That moment is a marvelous, a moment of awe and pain. Awe before the mysterious grandeur of God’s image imprinted into each human being and pain before our sinful nature to tarnish such image.
Just as any sculptor, or in the case, as an assistant to the Sculptor, we must have in mind the final project that is to emerge with time, effort, prayer and the willing collaboration of the other person. And it is important that we make this explicit to them. Any critique, any habits that we insist they must change, must be explicitly presented as a way for them to become who they are meant to be, the best version of themselves. Speaking with youth in a recent trip, I have been surprised by how rare it is for them to “reflect” about who they are and who they want to become, “who” not only in the sense of what they will do, how much money they are going to make, etc… rather “who” in the sense of their own identity. “Have you ever though of the best version of you?” “No, for now I just live in the moment, I will do that when I am older…” For so many of them the seductions of a life lived in the moment are too appealing, too comfortable. Yet, if we do not help, how else are they going to discover something greater within them, something that demands sacrifice and exertion, yet which is the only thing that is truly worth sacrifice and exertion!
Questions for Dialogue
One could approach the videos message from various angles. The one I choose was directed more towards training those who are going to do be doing apostolate. With these you might ask:
How often do you judge? Do you recognize how this limits you from seeing who the other person really is? Do you recognize how this limits you in your apostolate? What does Christ teach us when he is with “sinners”: the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the lepers? What attitudes does he demonstrate? How do they compare with yours?