Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;
— 3 John 1:5
The NIV translates this verse as Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. which again gives a sharper picture in more modern language of what is being said. John is complimenting Gaius, the recipient of the letter, on his faithful and compassionate interactions with his fellow Christians, even though, as John acknowledges, many are likely as strangers to him. Their Christian values are their common bond, brethren and strangers alike. The guidance here is to treat people with equal kindness, even those who are not like us. Humanity is our common bond.
In these times of great othering it becomes harder and harder to see commonality through the walls of difference we erect—we erect ourselves, yes, but mostly are erected upon us by the systems in which we live, by the media and especially social media platforms who feed off hatred, and need there to always be a 'them' and an 'us' that we may be more easily sold to the advertisers as one worthy of buying either this idea or that idea. We struggle to be truly human in such a system, to see others as human too. The other becomes a moron, an idiot, a nazi or a nutcase. Seeking to understand is no longer a thing, seeking more difference, more distance is promoted instead. There is a prayer though, that helps me to get back on track when I find myself veering down that ugly path of dislike, disdain, mistrust...the path of othering.1
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
1 This prayer was first recorded in 1912 in France, in a spiritual magazine called La Clochette. It became credited to St Francis in 1927, following a reproduction of the prayer alongside his image, and has been known as The St Francis Prayer for Peace ever since.