Lenten Reflections

Befriend/honor those who are different and learn their stories

All life is sacred. Human life is especially so. Protecting it is of utmost importance to God. He takes this so seriously and personally because He made humanity to reflect Him. We are His earthly representatives, made in His image. To murder another person is to mount an attack on the One who created him.
—Genesis 9:7 (The Voice)

There is a street nearby with six houses.  Everyone on that street has graduated from Oregon State—as evidenced by the Beaver flags on every lawn.  One of the residences said, “We’re friends from school, or friends recommended other graduates.”  Not a bad thing to live by other like-minded people, to be part of a tribe, but when we are only exposed to our own tribe and build barriers to keep out those who “aren’t like us”, we miss out on the huge variety God has created in the world.  And if we are small-minded on earth, how will we ever cope with God’s mind-bogglingly expansive Heaven?
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting persons you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.  All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.  It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.  There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.  But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting spendours.  This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.  We must play.  But our merriment must be of that king (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the onset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.
And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner–no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.  Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.  If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.
—C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

The challenge?

Get to know someone who isn’t like you—a person from a different faith tradition, a person from no faith tradition, someone old, someone young, someone from a different country, or different educational background, or a different financial background.  Remember, one day you’ll be in Heaven with them!  And if you live in a neighborhood with people of similar backgrounds, and go to church with people who are like you, explore outside the box by meeting some refugees, or working with teens by tutoring.  Here are some suggestions:

Incline us O God! to think humbly of ourselves, to be saved only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with the charity which we would desire from them ourselves.
—Jane Austen