Meditation for the Day

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, January 21

Truly Living Our Faith Demands that We Not Judge Others by Their Appearance or Demeanor, for Only God Can Truly Discern the True Character of a Person by Seeing into the Depths of One’s Heart and Soul.

“Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart” – words which we find in our First Reading today.

It is so easy to get caught-up in the trap of judging by appearances, rejecting too quickly what may have hidden merits, and giving our applause and our hearts to what glitters, but has no staying power. It is especially hurtful when we become judgmental of our fellow human beings, especially when our opinions may later be exposed as erroneous or inaccurate.

We have heard the expression before that “one cannot judge a book by its cover”, but the publishers of a book know how important the appearance or title on the cover is for getting our attention and selling their product. But we also know that, in many instances, the cover rarely conveys the true contents of the book at all.

In the same way, how many relationships were forged out of appearances, only to later find out that, even though the body might be beautiful on the outside, the heart was shallow and selfish? Yet, when a couple first starts dating, don’t they both put forward their best “faces” for each other, hiding those flaws which are unattractive, trying to impress the other person by what they feel is harmless deceit?

Seeing as God sees takes time and requires an open and discerning spirit that is willing to be surprised, and willing to see goodness, truth and beauty in the most unexpected places. It takes humility on our part to realize that, first and foremost, we are far from perfect ourselves. And it is in our imperfections that we fail to discern what may be beautiful in someone else!

Samuel made that same mistake when he began to look upon the sons of Jesse in our First Reading. And God had to say to Samuel, “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him.”

Here was God’s own prophet, whom many people feared and respected. Even Samuel fell prone to the error of judging what was on the outside. How much more so, then, could you and I fall into the same trap of misinterpreting and misjudging what we see in someone we do not truly know?

And in today’s Gospel, even the Pharisees were unfairly judgmental when Jesus and His disciples, due to their hunger, were gleaning grains of wheat while walking through a field on the Sabbath. The Jewish elders could only see the external, the letter of the Law, and failed to discern the true meaning of why the Law was created in the first place.

In defending His disciples, Jesus teaches from the Scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom. And Jesus reminds them of the time when David and his men, fleeing from Saul’s army, sought food from the Temple – holy bread which only the priests could eat. None but the priests were allowed to eat it. Yet, in their hunger, David and his men ate this holy bread.

To this, the Pharisees had no response. Jesus made his point. Then our Lord says, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” He reminds the Pharisees that the Sabbath was given for our benefit, to refresh and renew us in living for God.

The Sabbath was intended for good, not for man to twist it into some perverted sense of unreasonable, ritualistic observance – denying God’s compassionate and merciful Love! Being judgmental, withholding mercy and kindness in response to human need, especially on the Sabbath, was not part of God’s plan.

Failing to see within each of us – no matter what our race, color or religious persuasion may be – the unfathomable Love which God holds for each of His children, can only lead us to prejudicial judgments about others; they can only lead to divisiveness, even discrimination.

And we know that this damaging behavior is NOT God’s will for us in the life of faith which we are to profess and live-out in our daily lives. Truly living our faith demands that we not judge others by their appearance or demeanor, for only God can truly discern the true character of a person by seeing into the depths of one’s heart and soul.

God led Samuel to choose the least likely in appearance as His anointed; for, of all the sons of Jesse, the heart of David was the most pleasing to God. And we read in the words of our Responsorial Psalm today, “And I will make him the first-born, highest of the kings of the earth.”

No one is perfect, and David turned out to be considerably less than perfect for someone who would be an ancestor of our Lord! But it was David himself who was the prefigurement, as Jesus tells us today, of the Son of Man, who “is lord even of the sabbath.”

In spite of David’s imperfections, God looked into his heart and said, “I can work with him!” Let us pray that, as we continue to grow in our faith and in our love relationship with God, our Lord feels the same way about you and me –

– that He can work with each one of us too!

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

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Prayer for the Day

“Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,

that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit,

that my work, too, may be holy.

“Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,

that I may love only what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,

that I may defend all that is holy.

“Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,

that I always may be holy. Amen.”

Saint Augustine of Hippo

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