Sunday, 6 August 2017

Judge Not A Book By Its Cover

I sometimes wonder whether some people are aware of the double standards they practice, especially when they deal with different kinds of people. For example, when they are in the presence of a dignitary or some important person, they behave so pleasantly and sweetly. But when they come across a person who appears to be unkempt, or poor, or dressed in a simple manner, how would they behave? Some may look at such persons with suspicion, or have a haughty attitude, or even behave in a rude and demeaning manner towards the other.

For example, if you see a person who appears to be unkempt or dressed in a simple manner entering the church, would you make it a point to greet the person, or even offer some assistance? Or would you think that such a person has no place inside the church, or even think that such a person is is up to no good? Likewise, if you are a salesperson selling branded goods, and you see such a person browsing through such goods, would you offer your services, come what may, or would you ignore such persons, thinking that they are not worth your time, or even watch such a person closely, thinking that such a person could be a thief?

But the reality is, never judge a book by it's cover. The person you are dealing with may not be what he or she seems to be, since there may be more than meets the eye. A person may appear to be unkempt or even dressed in a simple manner, but sometimes such persons may turn out to be far more important or significant than we perceive through our prejudiced and coloured eyes. In fact, the person may even turn out to be Jesus in disguise.

I remember a story an elderly padre shared with me some years back, of a religious sister being posted to some remote parish in a diocese in some part of Africa. When she arrived, she managed to find her way to the remote parish, with help from some natives, whom she viewed with some apprehension. After putting her bags into her room, she went to present herself to the bishop, whose residence was just a walking distance away from the parish. Upon arriving at the bishop's residence, she came across a gardener near the entrance, and said to him: "hey old man, I am here to see the bishop. Where can I find him?" The gardener looked at her and said: "You want to see the bishop? Just go into the house and wait at the living room. He will meet you shortly." The sister went in and waited, and waited. She was getting pretty impatient, when an old-looking man came into the living room, dressed in full regalia, with mitre, staff and ceremonial attire. The sister was shocked to discover that the "old man" she had spoken to, in a rather rough manner, was in fact the bishop, and she felt embarrassed and sheepish. The bishop just grinned and welcomed her to his diocese, and even offered her some tea.

So the question we need to ponder is this... Are we able to treat everyone equally with compassion, dignity, mercy and love? Or have we allowed our pride, ego and prejudice to colour our vision and thoughts? Are we willing to behave truly as brothers and sisters in Christ, or do we choose to remain biased in our attitude and behaviour?

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