February 20, 2020
by Steve Scholer
Creighton University's University Relations
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 338

James 2:1-9
Psalms 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Mark 8:27-33

Praying Ordinary Time


The sin of partiality discussed in the First Reading is an interesting one. If one reads it quickly and does not take the time to reflect upon its true meaning it is pretty easy to come to the conclusion that James is saying woe be to the rich and famous for they are not worthy of Jesus Christ and praise to the poor in shabby clothes for theirs will be the Kingdom of God. 

Maybe that very interpretation lead to Shakespeare’s great line, “All that glitters is not gold” in the Merchant of Venice. And the converse to his line is the idiom, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” which is attributed to a 1944 edition of the African Journal of American Speech.
To illustrate the point, last Saturday morning I attended the funeral of the mother of a friend of mine. I wore my black suit and even washed my black car for the service. After the funeral, I drove to the Omaha Executive Airport to pick up two friends who fly privately. After their NetJet landed, I drove my shiny black car onto the tarmac and parked right next to the plane. I greeted a couple in their late 80s, helped them into my car, and drove them to their home in Omaha.

To the uniformed, one might have assumed that dressed in black suit, I was the chauffer for an ultra-rich couple. But that could not be further from the truth. The couple, while wealthy, live in a very modest home in an unassuming neighborhood and more importantly, are in the process of giving away most of their wealth to a host of charities and worthy causes. For the real wealth this couple possess is their boundless generosity, their deep-seated desire to help others, and their faith in all mankind.

God calls us to follow his example and to form our conclusions about people based not on appearances, but on how they live their lives. He gave this very advice to Samuel when he said “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

As we go about our busy lives, let us practice looking beyond outward appearances and to try and discern if the Holy Spirit is dwelling within the people we meet, whether they be dressed in fine or shabby clothes. Let us look to their hearts and how they conduct themselves, just as God does. Trust me when I say it will require more time and attention on our part to make this sort of informed decision, but there might be an added benefit. In the process of looking more deeply at those we meet; we might also look more deeply at how we conduct our own lives and what fills our hearts.  Hopefully, in the words of James we will be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him.

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