“He who recognizes a king in disguise treats him differently from he who sees before him only the figure of an ordinary man and treats him accordingly. Likewise, souls who can recognize God in the most trivial, the most grievous and most mortifying things that happen to them, honour everything equally with delight and welcome with open arms what others dread and avoid.” —Jean-Pierre de Caussade in The Sacrament of the Present Moment (HarperOne, 1966).
I know people like this who seem to treat everyone equally, one person is no more important than another, all are human and divine at the same time. They seem to see the Holy Spirit, the God, the Christ in each person they meet. They do not look merely at the outer appearances or political stature or wealth or power that a person represents. This approach certainly was modeled for us by Christ.
My experience teaches me that if we cannot see Christ in our neighbor, often it is because we cannot see Christ in ourselves. Consequently, we project onto others our unchristlike behavior that we do not realize is really within us.
How do we change? Along the way, we are touched by someone who treats us as if we really do contain a divine spark, the holy within us—that is, we are treated with love. It is as though a spark becomes lighted. A light, a lightbulb goes on inside of us. We begin to believe we are loved.
So, this is indeed our mission as spiritual friends: to seek out the light, the Christ in each other.
I remember talking to a spiritual friend about a family member I was having difficulty with. She helped me by asking me, “Tell me something good about her. Something she does well.”
My experience also is that I cannot see the Christ in someone else when I live in fear. I realized this recently when attending a meeting at which I was uncomfortable. I wanted to look good. I did not know exactly what was expected of me. I was fearful that I might make a mistake. As an introvert, I did not interact with anyone I did not know. I only had concern for what people might be thinking about me. Was I making a good impression?
At our next meeting, I hope to relate better to others. My plan is, just before the meeting, to say a prayer for each person I know who will be there, asking specifically that we will all see the Christ within each other. I will let you know how it goes.