Genesis tells us that man is made in God’s likeness and image, and is therefore set apart among God’s creation. You might think, therefore, that man is great for being made in the image of God. However, it is not we who are great, but God who is great, for he made us.
I work full time in a customer service call center, and in the year that I have been in my position, I have learned a great deal about the human condition… or perhaps the fallen human condition is a more apt term. The lies that people employ to get what they want, the greed, the anger, the demands, and the pervasive sense of entitlement.
It seems now more than ever that people have unrealistic expectations of others. There is a sentiment that an individual’s whims are to be served. It’s almost as if people overestimate their self-worth, especially in comparison with others. While every individual is endowed with an inherent dignity, what is forgotten is that the whole of humanity is equal in dignity.
Fr. Fred Lucci OP, pastor at All Saints Catholic Newman Center at Arizona State University, delivered an excellent homily last Sunday in relation to the Gospel reading. He expounded on how man is great because God is great. Fr. Fred was careful to note that God made us to be good, even though we do not always act as such.
Man is imperfect. We know this. However, Jesus brought a radical message of love that would overturn the ancient law of vengeance. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” was not only a common maxim since before Jesus’ time, but also put into practice. Jesus in turn introduced “turning the other cheek,” a concept that we today still have difficulty grasping.
And when Christ’s detractors attempted to trick Him by asking what the greatest commandment is, He responded, “…love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your heart, and with all your strength. The second one is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”
The message is simple and has been around for 2,000 years, but a cursory glance at history is evidence that we still don’t get it. We are all members of the Body of Christ, and Christ resides in all of us, we reside in Him. The Eucharist is a perfect illustration of this, in the flesh.
To be sure, it is a challenge to see Christ in every person. Due to our limitations, and the limitations of others, we do not always see Christ in the beggar on the corner, our coworkers, our competitors, those of differing political persuasions, different creeds, varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds, disparate socioeconomic statuses, ranging from the elderly to the unborn, the gay to the straight, and the list goes on. But they still are Christ, every last one.
I confess I fall short of this. It is a daily struggle. But I am capable. We are all capable. And it is not because we are great, but because God is great.