You know the saying: never judge a book by its cover.  Well, the same could be said about people.  Never judge them by their faces or the way they appear.  Think of your own family.  It’s made up of individuals all of whom look different and behave differently. The secret of a happy family life lies in being able and willing to cope with the differences, the likes and dislikes of members, their mannerisms and ways of doing things.

It’s a bit like that with the world family.  Thanks to advances in technology and travel, we now inhabit a global village.  There is a greater sense today of being part of the human family than ever before.  The members of this world family, the races, like our own small families, have their own temperaments, mannerisms and ways of doing things.  That’s what makes the world so interesting and exciting.  Just think of how boring it would be if we were all the same; speaking the same language, doing everything in the same way, like well-trained robots!

Instead of judging people and treating them as different because of their colour, race, religion, culture, etc., we should celebrate the richness of our world and delight in its diversity.  And as with our own small families, the secret of a peaceful world order lies in the ability to live with human difference and make of it something beautiful and worthwhile for all to appreciate.

When we look at people’s faces we need to see there something more than colour and racial difference.  We need to be able to see another member of our world family whose life is as important and precious as our own and who, like us, has a unique contribution to make to the building up of the world family.  St Paul put it like this:  “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).  All of which brings me to a little parable summarising all I have said and more.

family

An old and learned teacher once asked his students how to tell when the dark night had ended and the new day begun.  One student wondered: is it when you can tell the difference at a great distance between a dog and a sheep?  No, replied the teacher.  Well then, ventured another: is it when you can tell the difference at one hundred yards between a fig tree and a peach tree?  Again the teacher shook his head.  Tiring easily at this fruitless line of questioning, the students demanded an answer.  The teacher paused and then spoke.  It is when you can look on the face of any woman or any man and see there a sister, a brother.  If you cannot do that, then no matter what time it is, it is still night.

Fr. Gerry McFlynn

Author Fr. Gerry McFlynn

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