How many people do we simply write off when our first impressions don't evoke feelings of admiration? How many people have we known for some time but still don't respect? The etymology of the word brings light and healing to this broken truth about our relationships. From the Latin, spectare means "to look," and re means "again." Respect means "to look again." When we find nothing to admire at first glance (or second, or third...) we must look again, and again, and again, until we find it. That's what it means to respect someone.
It's such a sad state of mind to claim we don't like people. To not like a person is a travesty. Isn't it actually certain things about people we don't like, often trivial things at that? Sometimes it's more serious or even dangerous defects of character (Jesus calls us to see his face even in brokenness). Sometimes there's real personality conflict, or even malice. Humility bridges this gap, and allows us to look again. Everyone has something unrepeatable and beautifully unique to offer, and we'll find it if we maintain respect. Keep looking.
How often does this failure to get to know people warp and diminish our experience of Church? We make rash judgments that we simply can't have relationships of friendship with certain people, and we fail to look again. Catholicism calls us beyond this superficial level of looking at our brothers and sisters. Christ is in our midst, but we must grow in the virtues necessary if we want to see him. Respect is one such virtue.
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I've been reading this book by Mother Mary Francis, and it inspired me to write this post. Every page is another gem on the art of Christian friendship. How beautiful the Body of Christ is! May we all have the humility to forgive, and the respect to look again. This notion of friendship is the seedbed of deeper personal conversion, the remedy to our broken relationships, and the foundation for what JPII called "the civilization of love."
Believe me when I say I'm preaching to myself! As Church, it's our duty to challenge one another in areas such as these. It matters. So often grace turns all of our presuppositions and expectations on their head, and this is a perfect example. Rather than sitting around the metaphorical water cooler pointing out flaws and disappointments in people (which only blinds us), let's try and find something to admire instead.
1 - Share Yourself 2 - Know the Kerygma 3 - Pray. Especially When You Don't Have Time.
4 - Collaborate 5 - Invite. Invite. Invite. 6 - Be Cheerful 7 - Do the Task at Hand
8 - Don't Forget Recess 9 - It Begins with a Smile 10 - The Topic is Always Jesus
11 - The WIIFM Principle 12 - Recapture the Enchantment 13 - Learn to Use Youtube
14 - The Art of Accompaniment 15 - The Art of Listening
16 - Eat Food. It's Part of Evangelization 17 - Everything Leads to Liturgy
18 - Self-love Can Still Be Other-centered 19 - It Will Never Be Perfect, Don't Stress
20 - The "Student" is the Whole Family 21 - Catechesis is a MEANS of Evangelization 22 - The 5 Means of Evangelization 23 - The Christian Life is Service 24 - Doctrine is for Prayer. 25 - From Evangelization to Immanuelization 26 - Humility, Love, and 'Eucharistic' Anticipation 27 - People Change People 28 - Salvation History is Our Story 29 - Mutual Forgiveness 30 - Fraternal Correction 31 - Build-Up Families 32 - Affirmative Orthodoxy 33 - Emphasize the Mission 34 - Talk about Tithing 35 - Recognize Bondage 36 - Encourage Ignatian Discernment 37 - Be Patient. It's a Process. 38 - The Thresholds of Conversion 39 - What... or, better yet, Who is the Parish? 40 - There's no place like a Home