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Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:50

I have very few enemies… unless you count all the people I’ve stolen french fries from. Am I supposed to be sorry?!?!

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What does that have to do with this bible verse? Everything my dear stranger-friends-from-all-over-the-internet. In the past, when I read this verse, I always read it as if Jesus was saying whoever is not your enemy is on your side, they’re on your team, your squad.

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But what about the people that are neither? What about someone who is not my enemy, but who also doesn’t really seem to be on my side? Someone who is apathetic to religion… or who agrees with half of the teachings of the Catholic Church… what about them?

A Gift For Me

I’ve realized that they are “for” me in a different way. They are God’s gift to me! And if each and every person around me is a gift for me, from God, I had better pay attention because people — His gifts — are all around me.

A person doesn’t have to be sitting next to me in church in order to be my brother or sister, or in order to be a follower of Christ. I make the mistake of only looking in church for my brothers and sister but what I need is an increased desire for encounter and openness to learn about God from every soul that walks on this earth.

But first I have to overcome my own prejudice, judgements, and shortsightedness. I can’t even tell you how often I see someone and I instantly make a judgement about them. This clouds my perception of them and then I’m not even open to seeing Christ in them, or learning about Jesus from them because I’ve already discredited them because they aren’t one of the ones held up as a “saint” or “teacher” or “example” in our world.

Do You Believe?

Pope Francis says that God … “challenges us daily with the question: “Do you believe? Do you believe it is possible that a tax collector can become a servant? Do you believe it is possible that a traitor can become a friend? Do you believe is possible that the son of a carpenter can be the Son of God?”

Do you believe that a man named Saul could go from killing Christians, to being one of the greatest Christians of their time?

Do you believe the pro-choice Planned Parenthood worker can still love God but be misled in their evaluation of life, choice, and feminism?

Do you believe that the prison inmate can be more humble, more faithful, more obedient than you, despite the fact they have never been to Mass in their life?

Do you believe the sinner, the addict, the druggy, whomever doesn’t fit in the box we think a Christian should fit in — that they are all loved equally by God? Some even have a larger capacity to accept his mercy and grace than I do, because where sin abounds grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20).

Do you believe some of the greatest saints of the 21st century may still be living lives of sin, waiting for someone bold enough to enter into their world and show them God’s love and truth?

Do you believe everyone around you is a gift for you, another sign of God’s love and a lesson about what God’s love and mercy look like?

What I Actually Need

I don’t need more people in my corner cheering for me. I already found myself a cheerleader… [HE] always right there when I need [HIM].

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And I already have close friends who are helping me walk the road to heaven. What I need is more compassion. I need to see with Christ’s eyes. I need to love without limits and without expecting anything in return. I need to see everyone as gift, no matter how far outside of the box they appear to be.

So I’d like to apologize. I’m sorry to every person I’ve seen outside of church whom I’ve avoided because I made a judgement about you. I’m sorry that in my short-sightedness I cut off any chance of having an authentic encounter with you. I’m sorry I didn’t see that just as I had something to give you, you had something to give me, or to teach me. I could have been Christ to you, but I chose to look away. You are God’s gift for me, but I pushed you aside. I’m sorry that I put you in a category instead of loving you simply as the son or daughter of God that you are. I’m ready to change the way I see the world, but be patient with me… I’m still learning.

I’m praying for you.

Reflect/Journal/Talk About It

What kinds of people do you see and judge right away? How are they different from you and why does it matter? What can you learn from people who don’t fit in the “church” box that we have in our minds? What’s one way that you can step out of your comfort zone and encounter someone who you previously wouldn’t have wanted to encounter?

About the Author

Christina Mead

I'm just striving for sainthood through lots of imperfect ways. I daydream about heaven, where I want to be the patron saint of lifeguards. I think I might paint my nails just so I can pick it off. I wrote a book about Mary and what she taught us about being a Catholic girl. It's called "That One Girl" and I think you'd like it! Follow me on Twitter @christinamead.