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July 10, 2022: We Pre-Judge


Clothes say something about us. But clothes can also offer false information, even setting us up for stereotypes. For example, I want you to do a “gut check” when you see these thing [Show Pride t-shirt, Black Lives Matter t-shirt, MAGA cap. Place them on a clothes stand]


Most of what we feel in our guts is learned. For example, I could show this same t-shirt to a 5 year old and they would be like, whatever. We are taught what to fear. It’s basically a survival skills imprinted in our DNA. We fear the unknown. That’s how humans survived through the ages . . . by staying away from things that they are unknown.


Also, we all have prejudges. That is, we prefer one thing over another. We pre-judge. Everyone does that, but it become complicated when we prefer this kind of person over that kind of person OR we pre-judge someone based on all sorts of goofy things . . . for example what they are wearing, what their skin color is, their weight or their attractiveness.


We, as people of faith are invited look beyond ourselves. That is, to have the courage to become more aware. In the gospel, Jesus is pretty clear about loving a neighbor AS OURSELVES. Not, as much as we love ourselves, but loving that person as an extension of ourselves. Wow, that’s heavy.


So let’s go back to stereotypes [point to the clothes on the clothes stand]. Or the thinking that we have NOTHING in common with that kind of person. Most often with a stereotypy we play in in our minds a characterization of that person:

  • Place them in a hierarchy – e.g. they are below Or thinking, “At least I am not like that!”
  • Recall reasons of why I should fear this kind of person, which is usually based on an encounter with

ONE such person. For example, that all blacks act this way, usually based because ONE black person I met was this way

  • Assume behaviors/actions. Often influenced by movies, TV shows or something we read.

When we do any of those things, we miss an encounter. We miss connecting to the individual person behind all the trappings [remove the shirts from the clothes stand.]


Jesus throws in a zinger in the gospel story. Now remember he’s talking to fellow Israelites. We have a story about a beat up man and the first two to come along to him are “Churchy people.” I mean they both know that quote from Leviticus about loving your neighbor as yourself. Perhaps they didn’t want to touch blood because it would make them impure and they couldn’t do their Church duties, so they ignore him. But a bad guy, the one from Samaria, who actually does the good thing. The people would “boo” him, he represents the people we don’t trust or like . . . for some of you, think: brown people, or transgender people or Muslims. And it’s that one who truly understands what neighbor is . . . not the person who looks like us, or talks like us, or who has the same color of skin. A neighbor is anyone is basically everyone.


We need to learn a new way of living. We need to learn a new language . . . which is RELATIONSHIP

[I interact with the clothes stand].

  • Awareness is the first step. Paying attention to your patterns of what kind of people you don’t like, or what kind of people you are afraid of. Then ask yourself why? How did you learn that?
  • Start imagining what their lives must be like. How did they get to be who they are?
  • Get into relationship with them. This is the toughest one. Talk to them. Ask questions. Be curious, instead of furious.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor AS yourself. Spiritual writer, Fr. Richard Rohr says, “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”


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