"Let us Love, since that is what are hearts are made for."
-St. Therese of Lisieux
A couple years ago, I was volunteering at the local soup kitchen one town over from where I live. It was a regular Thursday routine. I would go in at 10:00am to help with the prepping of food and then served lunch to the poor and homeless. Many of the people I would see were regulars. They were there every week looking for their warm food and was probably the only meal they had that day. I got to know each person by name. There was one day where I did not recognize a particular gentleman; he was a newbie or someone from out of town. He was dressed in raggedy jeans with a hoodie. His hair was unkept and I think it was weeks since his last shower. We were serving mashed potatoes and turkey that day. I asked the man who had his head down if he would like a serving of potatoes. He looked up at me with his hood over his head. All I could see were his bright blue eyes and wrinkled face. He just nodded with a yes. At that moment, I immediatley saw the suffering in his eyes. It looked as if this man went through hell and back. When he said "thank you" after I plopped the mashed potatoes on his plate, I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace. I then noticed that the face that was staring back at me was Jesus. This was the first time I ever noticed Him in another person. It was very surreal but also real at the same time. The suffering I saw in this man's face was the same suffering that Jesus went through at the time of His passion.
How many times have you encountered a stranger on the street who looked like this man? Or have you ever noticed someone on the side of the road holding a sign that says "homeless" or "need food." Many times, we go about our day with our busy schedules not paying attention to any of this. Sometimes, we are short with people and can say something unkind or derogatory towards a person who is unlike us. Maybe the person is of another skin color, a different race, ethnic class, or religion.
In the world we live in today, there is so much division among the human race. There is hate towards this group of people and that group of people, this political party and that political party. There is even hate towards people who uphold the law and protect the common good. A lot of times, these feelings of hatred and acts of violence have to do with a lack of understanding of a particular group. It is misplaced anger and generational patterns in families that go from one generation to another. The spirit of judgment and hate are learned from the enviornments in which we grow up in. But as we get older, we have a choice to either continue with the generational patterns or break free from it. God gave us free will to choose either good or bad; love or hate.
In the book of Genesis 1:27 it says "God created man in His own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
We are made from love (which is God) to love (which is an action). The love that which we are made from is to share that with others. It is being kind to people, giving someone a compliment, not talking bad about anyone or group of people, sacraficing personal things and giving of oneself. If people can see and recognize Jesus in others (like I did at the soup kitchen), there would be no harsh words said to a person and no acts of violence.
In the Catechesim of the Catholic Church it states in article 1 (1702), the divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the unity of the divine persons among themselves. So, we are called to love one another, not hate. We are all made by one Creator which makes us unified as one human race; a commonality. So, that includes hispanic, chinese, mexican, asian, as well as different religions, such as muslim, Jewish or Christian. We may have differnt views or different opinions, but that should not divide us or keep us apart from one another. Love breaks through all these divisions. The universal language among all nations, all races and all religions is love.
In conclusion, if we surround ourselves with love and put into action, the world would be a better place. There would be less violence, less division and less hatred. We are called to love. What is your choice?
About the Author: Donna L. Marotto is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist; a Faith Formation Coordinator/Youth Minister and Lay Franciscan. If you want to leave a comment or questions, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org