"Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, 'Surely we are not also blind, are we?' Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.'" Jn 9 37-38
Jesus often speaks of spiritual blindness. He calls the Pharisees "Blind guides" and rails against them for failing to help the needy. He also cautions his disciples against spiritual blindness when they fail to trust that he can do what he claims. Even after providing enough bread to feed five thousand people, his disciples worry about where they will get food. Disappointed, Jesus challenges his followers to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees which tuns them inward on themselves, and makse them blind to the needs of everyday people.
All of us have a limited ability to see. It can be very difficult to understand (much less accept) people of different cultures, races and religious traditions. Their customs, language and values seem so very different from ours that we approach them tentatively and warily. This is unfortunate at best and disastrous at worst. When we fail to appreciate differences among people, we risk dismissing or attacking those who seem to challenge our values.
The diversity in the Catholic church is one of its greatest strengths and few helped us understand this better than Pope John Paul II. His willingness to travel widely and reach out for those on the margins of every society continue to remind us that Jesus saw beyond Jerusalem, and embraced anyone who opened themselves to God's word. When we push past our fears and resistance to engage people who are very different from us, we almost always are grateful for the understanding and acceptance that result from going beyond our comfort zone.
Today, pay attention to people who are different from you.
What have been your best experiences of diversity in the church?