Reality, Unfiltered

Reality, Unfiltered

October 29, 2017 | N W | Compassion, Deacon Eddie, Discipleship, Grace, Love

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 29, 2017 – Year A
Readings: Ex 22:20-26 / Ps 18 / 1 Thes 1:5C-10 / Mt 22:34-40
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

I once heard a story about a student driver. The student was a very good driver; he handled a car very well. One day the student was out riding with the instructor, and they came to a stoplight. As they were approaching, the light turned yellow. The student stepped on the gas, at which point the instructor yelled “Stop!”

The student, being a good driver, reacted, pulled his foot off the gas, applied the brake very hard, and was able to stop the car just a little past the line. The student was frustrated by this and looked at the instructor and said, “I could have made that.” The instructor said “I know you could have made it, but you’re asking yourself the wrong question. The question you should be asking yourself is “Could I stop?”

I like this story because it is a good example of how our perspective changes the way we see the things that are going on around us. That’s normal: We’re all individuals, we have our own experiences, and that colors the way we see the world. That’s why a glass-half-full person would see today as “Oh, this rain. Its watering the plants. It’s been dry for a while; we could really use that.” But a glass-half-empty person would be thinking “Golly, how depressing. It’s cold. It’s wet.” Same situation but a different perspective on it.

We all know there are three sides to every argument: his side, her side, and what really happened. This has to do with the way our brains process data. We take our senses, we take our sight, we take our hearing, we take the smells, we take the touch and all of that goes into the processer. Part of that process is a filter. That filter takes out the stuff that we don’t think is important and amplifies the stuff that we think is important. Then that data is what governs our reactions to the situation.

It reminds me of a quote that I’ve always been fond of. “Perception is reality.” I’ve always liked that quote, but you’ve got to be careful with it. Because that quote aptly describes how our perceptions and our filters and our life experience govern the way we see things. But it can also be used to justify a relativism. The idea that “Okay, that may be the way you see things, and that’s okay for you, but this is the way I see it and this is okay for me.”

As Christians we should know that that’s not correct. We should never fall victim to that. As Christians we should know that truth is truth and reality is reality, regardless of what we think about it.

And what is this truth, what is this reality? The reality is that we live in a world that was created by God, and it was created to be good. At the pinnacle of that creation are human beings, and human beings are created to be good. Paramount to that reality is the fact that God loves each and every one of us. God may not approve of everything we do, but that doesn’t change the fact that He loves us. That doesn’t change the fact that He loves Christians, He loves Muslims, He loves Jews, even though He may not always approve of what they do. It is a fact of our reality that God loves us, and we can’t earn that love; we get it no matter what. We can’t earn more love. God is infinite, His love is infinite.

Our reality and our perception of this reality can fall victim to our own prejudices and our own filters. That can be fixed, if we strive to make God’s filters our filters. If we strive to see the world as God sees it. If we strive to understand people a little more than judging them. If we strive to help people a little more than dismissing them.

Think about how much better this world could be. Think about if we spent a little less time thinking about how someone is dressed and a little more time thinking about what’s going on in this person’s life. How can I help them? If we spent a little less time thinking that this person shouldn’t be here and a little more time thinking “Wow, things are rough for this person. What were they going through that made them choose to be here rather than where I think they should be?”

If we can take steps toward making God’s filters our filters and perceiving the world the way God sees it, we would become more like the Thessalonians in the second reading. In the second reading St. Paul is patting the Thessalonians on the back. He calls them a model for believers. If we could act more like that, think of how much better the world would be.