Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection – February 17, 2022
6th Week Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year C
Readings: Jas 2:1-9, Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, Gospel Mk 8:27-33
Optional Memorial: The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order
Theme: Thinking as God Does
Jesus said, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” At first thought you might think to yourself, how am I to know how God thinks? Who am I to know the mind of God? Yet in both our readings today that is exactly what is expected of us. We know what God expects of us and thus we know what God thinks.
At times we can have tunnel vision. We are thinking and doing what is immediately in front of us instead of expanding our view of the horizon and seeing the bigger picture. St. James is saying just that in telling us that we should not show partiality between our neighbors because of our narrow judgment of them and their life. If we do have tunnel vision, we are thinking as humans do and not as God does.
When we judge someone based on human criteria, we can judge them according to financial importance, social status, or nobility and risk being partial. In human thinking, our judgment of others can lead us to give more attention to higher-ranked people and ignore the lessor-ranked person. In God’s way of thinking all people are the same, no matter their rank in human judgment terms.
Jesus challenges us, as He did St. Peter, to look beyond human thought and insight and see the bigger picture. Jesus must suffer His passion to accomplish His task of salvation for all of humanity. St. Peter, in his naivety, was only thinking about Jesus as human, one he needed to protect and guard. His heart was in the right place, but his mind was not. We must think like God does and not as we humans do. When we think as God does, all humanity becomes the same precious life we cherish for ourselves, no matter the state or status in life. We see that all lives matter and have equal importance.
In my secular job, I have always tried to put this teaching into practice. As a manufacturing executive with people reporting to me, I must look beyond the job position and see the person and what they have to offer. When I do this, I hear the unique suggestions for improvement from the man pushing the broom, or the insight the staff accountant might have for being more efficient in production, or the safety concern on a project that could save lives from the administrative assistant or janitor. I view all of the people I work with as existing on the same level, from the president to housekeeping. We all have different skillsets and jobs to do, yet we all matter to the success of the company in profoundly different ways. I treat the maintenance man the same as I do the president. In other words, I try to show no partiality among the employees and treat them with equal respect and dignity.
St. Peter received a lesson from Christ in thinking differently about who Jesus really was and the mission He had to complete. For us, we need to think beyond the secular, human ranking we put people in and see the greater good they bring in their unique gifts and talents in life.
Go about your day thinking as God does and not as humans do, and you will be amazed at the transformation you will see in the other person. Judging one another and treating people differently based on their status and success leads to partiality and that, as St. James says, will lead to sin and being convicted by the law as transgressors.