Show No Partiality As You Adhere to the Faith

September 5, 2021

Distinctions can run rampant in our lives.  In the second reading, St. James challenges his readers to look at how one might judge another by the clothing that they wear.  Do we treat others differently if they are dressed in a certain way?  Certain brands might elicit a response over others.  In the golf world, many golfers ask others what kind of clubs they use.  If one has an off-brand, is a judgment made?  The same can be said of golf balls.  There are some golf balls because of price might be considered an elitist brand.  At times do we think because a cut of meat is more expensive, it is better?  We live in an active world that makes distinctions.  “You always get what you pay for.”  That is often said when something of a lesser price falls apart.

So how do we live this showing of no partiality?  How do we get at the core of Gospel values?  It is not easy.  To delve into challenging ourselves to move from a dualistic world to something that is pluralistic comes with deep silence and reflection.  We must discipline ourselves with honesty to know when we are making distinctions.  This is different from recognizing differences and embracing all differences equally.  Everyone is created in the image and likeness of God and is unique.  We are called to refrain from treating another differently because of that uniqueness.  Differences are to be seen as new doorways to learn more about our incredibly creative God.  It is when we divide, the rich from the poor, and treat them differently; it is when we treat people of other faiths differently; it is when we respond to those of other ethnic and racial backgrounds differently that we take the step away from being impartial to acting upon the differences.

For me, this teaching is not easy, yet it is so crucial.  We have seen our country and even our faith divided.  We have seen lines drawn in the sand over votes and elections.  God does not see division in His creativity.  Differences were never meant to be vilified.  Our actions towards one another are to become the embrace of a doorway so wide that there are no parameters.  How can we do such an act?  It can only happen when we reflect on what God is doing in our individual lives.  Has God condemned you for your sin?  No, He has redeemed you by the Blood of the Lamb.  Has God compared you to another and told you that you don’t measure up?  No, He has loved you with the greatest love that at its core is filled with sacrifice.  Has God belittled you and abandoned you?  No, God has never abandoned His people.

If this is how we experience God, how can we treat others in any other way?  God has done this so we might have life and union with Him.  Radical Gospel love involves no partiality.  We need the grace to bring this kind of nonjudgmental hope into the world.  May we take in as much grace as we can often so that it can become plentiful enough within us that we can move away from judging differences and embrace the creative spirit of God.

Father John J. Ouper