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Mar 01, 2024 275 Connie Beckman, USA
Encounter

Can you love someone you don’t like?

Judging others is easy, but often enough, we go totally wrong in our judgment about others.

I remember an old fellow who used to come to Saturday night Mass. He was much in need of a bath and clean clothes. Quite frankly, he stunk. You can’t blame those who didn’t want to be subject to this awful smell. He walked two or three miles every day around our little town, picking up trash, and lived in an old, run-down shack all by himself.

It is easy for us to judge appearances. Isn’t it? I suppose it is a natural part of being human. I don’t know how many times my judgments about a person were totally wrong. In fact, it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to look beyond appearances without God’s help.

This man, for instance, despite his odd personality, was very faithful about participating in Mass every week. One day, I decided I would sit next to him at Mass regularly. Yes, he stunk, but he was also in need of love from others. By God’s grace, the stink didn’t bother me much. During the sign of peace, I would look him in the eye, smile, and greet him with a sincere: “Peace of Christ be with you.”

Never Miss This

When I entertain judgments about a person, I miss the opportunity that God wants to give me—an opportunity to see beyond the physical appearance and look into the person’s heart. That is what Jesus did to each person He encountered on His journey, and He continues to look beyond our yuck and look at our hearts.

I remember a time, being many years away from my Catholic faith, I sat in the Church parking lot, trying to muster enough courage to walk through the doors to attend Mass. I was so afraid that others would judge me and not welcome me back. I asked Jesus to walk in with me. Upon entering the Church, I was greeted by the Deacon, who gave me a big smile and a hug, and said: “Welcome.” That smile and hug were what I needed to feel like I belonged and was home again.

Choosing to sit with the old man who stunk was my way of “paying it forward.” I knew how desperately I wanted to feel welcomed, to feel that I belonged and I mattered.

Let us not hesitate to welcome each other, especially those who are difficult to be around.

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Connie Beckman

Connie Beckman is a member of the Catholic Writer’s Guild. She desires to encourage Catholic spiritual growth by sharing the truths of the Catholic faith. Beckman shares her joy and love of God through her writings.

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