You shall love your neighbor as yourself. —Matthew 22:39
Not having been lucky enough to win the lottery and see the show live, I recently watched “Springsteen on Broadway” on Netflix. Toward the end, Springsteen sings “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” In the song Tom provides examples of people who are struggling, such as a hungry baby crying or someone fighting for a decent job or a helping hand, and he says, “Look in
their eyes, Ma, and you’ll see me.”
This reminded me of a recent sermon that asked us to see Jesus in the faces of others. As I travel about the city and encounter a diversity of people, I often try to do exactly that. To be honest, seeing Jesus in the faces of others can be challenging. Easier to do when you see a homeless person, but more difficult with the rude person who just pushed past you to get on the subway. And even more difficult with those we strongly disagree with on a range of issues.
Every year my wife, Jane, and I spend January in Naples, Florida. There’s a fitness center where we stay where all the TVs are tuned to a cable news channel with a particular political perspective I do not share. I tell myself it is always good to hear things from another angle, so I listen. As I listen, I wonder what those around me (who chose this station) are thinking.
As the days go on I learn their names, and we greet each other warmly every morning. In our conversations they show concern for one another, share jokes, plan parties and cheer on the teams from their hometowns up north. They also make comments regarding the news they are hearing that can be jarring. But in spite of that, as I spend time in the gym with them the challenge of seeing Jesus in their faces lessens.
Each Sunday in our corporate Prayer of Confession, I confess that I have not loved my neighbors as myself, and I ask God’s help to change. Sometimes it is easy, and other times more difficult, but I am hopeful as I look for Jesus in the faces of others.
Gracious and loving God, give me the strength to continue to search the faces of others so that I may find you there. Amen.
Bob Henn is a Trustee of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.