How we see and understand the various aspects of life changes as we mature and as our circumstances change. We are influenced by so many factors, some overt and some very subtle. We all have agendas of one kind or another. Emotions can play a part. Just when we think we have control, someone or something can challenge that perception. We hope our decisions about what is good and what is bad will keep us persevering toward positive outcomes. It is easy to fall into complacency or to just go along with the crowd if we are not careful.
Not many weekends ago, the reading from the ninth chapter of Mark’s Gospel included a teaching by Jesus that was aimed at changing his apostles’ perception about “the greatest.” (Verses 33-35) He told them that the greatest should be the least or servant of all! Whoa! Talk about a reversal!
And how about the parable of the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10:25-37) Does a “neighbor” have to be someone of your social status or someone with whom you have something in common in order to qualify for your love and assistance? Love does not have a nationality or special social order. Again Jesus is teaching about breaking out of stereotypical thinking and putting love first.
Jesus wants us to broaden our parameters for caring about others. We can exceed what we think our so-called limits of tolerance are. In Matthew’s Gospel (18:21-22), Jesus tells Peter that we should be merciful and forgiving when someone sins against us; we should forgive over and over again! What we perceive as unforgivable is worth more consideration.