In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples, Truly, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me. It’s easy to see Jesus in those who show us love, kindness, and mercy. But how often do we truly see the face of Christ in those we disagree with? How often do we see the face of Christ in ourselves?
Fr. Bob Pagliari, a priest in the Archdiocese of New York, recently stopped by Morning Air® to discuss how we can recognize the image and likeness of God in each and every person we encounter.
“Here’s the easiest way to go about it, I believe,” Fr. Pagliari began. “Look in the mirror. Start there. If you look in the mirror and you don’t like that person who is looking back at you, you’ve gotta make some changes so you do like yourself. Because you are made in the image and likeness of God.”
“Take the face of someone you disagree with, and instead of demonizing them, put that face in the mirror,” he continued. “Now you have something of yourself looking back at you. And what is looking back at you? It’s the image of God. They are made in the image of God, just like we are.”
Fr. Pagliari also warned against the danger of seeing people as a group or a monolith, instead of as a unique individual who is loved by God. “That’s a big danger, to see that everybody is like ‘that.’ Because that’s not true. That kind of prejudice doesn’t get anybody anywhere, and it creates walls whether they exist or not.”
Another danger that Fr. Pagliari warned against was not seeing people as people at all. There are many, especially on the margins of society, that we would prefer to look away from. But Fr. Pagliari reminded us that in turning away from those on the margins we are turning away from Christ.
“If you’re going to give something to a homeless person in the street, don’t just toss some coins or a bill at them,” he said. “First, look at them. Look at them carefully, and see the face of Christ in them. Because that’s who you are giving this little donation to. Most of us just walk by these people like they are invisible. But think about this for a moment, if you are engaging with them you are saying, ‘Here is another face of Christ. Here is an actual person.'”
Small, meaningful encounters such as these do not only benefit those with material needs, they give us opportunities to bring the face of Christ to others, and to see the working of the Lord’s grace in our own lives. Fr. Pagliari said, “That becomes a real image of God and a reflection of ourselves. Then you go home and look at yourself in the mirror, you’re going to find that you look really good, and you feel a lot better about yourself because you are being Christ to other people.”
Listen to the full conversation below: