My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats’; then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.’ Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind, and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that?
Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. In spite of this, you have no respect for anybody who is poor. Isn’t it always the rich who are against you? Isn’t it always their doing when you are dragged before the court? Aren’t they the ones who insult the honourable name to which you have been dedicated? Well, the right thing to do is to keep the supreme law of scripture: you must love your neighbour as yourself; but as soon as you make distinctions between classes of people, you are committing sin, and under condemnation for breaking the Law.
Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And they told him. ‘John the Baptist,’ they said ‘others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’
Can’t you see that you have used different standards in your mind?
The importance of differentiated teaching is something I learned in the past two years. Each student is unique and has his or her own learning styles. Teaching for effective learning should acknowledge the interests, strengths and weaknesses or each student. Differentiated teaching values the equal worth of each student.
The attitude James admonishes in the first reading is one of elitism and favouritism. This kind of differentiation erroneously links intrinsic worth to material wealth. It stymies growth in faith, creating misunderstanding that ultimately divides the community. We see in the gospel that Jesus does not play favourites. Even though Peter earned a cap by correctly naming Him as the Christ, He still rebuked him for his subsequent short-sightedness.
If we take stock of our social circles we will note that some are closer to us. I admit how I often put more weight to the words and actions of those important to me. Despite this, everyone who is in our lives is there by the grace of God. We can find that those we do not get along with have important insights to teach us as well. My brothers and sisters, in our relationships with one another, may we always remember the worth of others and not let our bias pre-judge.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: We pray for empathy to relate to different characters.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for loving us as we are.