Seeing the Good

for Wednesday of Holy Week, April 1st, 2015

Liturgical texts here


READERS have heard me quote several popes [1]cf. Why Aren’t the Popes Shouting? who, over the decades have been warning, as Benedict did, that “the very future of the world is at stake.” [2]cf. On the Eve That led one reader to question whether I simply thought that the whole world was all bad. Here’s my answer.

When God created the heavens and earth, He said it was “good.” [3]cf. Gen 1:31 The world, though “groaning” now under the weight of sin, is still fundamentally good. In fact, my dear brothers and sisters, it is impossible for us to be witnesses of Jesus Christ unless we are able to see this good. And I don’t mean just the goodness and beauty of a sunset, a mountain range, or spring flower, but especially the good in fallen human beings. It is not enough to simply overlook their faults, as I was saying yesterday, but to also look for the good in the other. In fact, it is precisely in overlooking the speck in a brother’s eye and taking the log out of our own, that we can begin to clearly see the goodness in even the hardest of sinners.

What goodness?

It is the image of God in which we are created. [4]cf. Gen 1:27 There, in the face of the prostitute, tax collector, and Pharisees, and yes, even Judas, Pilate, and the “good thief,” Jesus looked, as it were, into His own reflection, all be it distorted and injured. There, beyond the sin, lay His masterpiece — “in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” [5]Gen 1:27 Like Jesus, we need to able to see this inherent goodness, to rejoice in it, to nurture it, to love it. For if another is made in the image of God, who is love, then are you not becoming a vessel of that very Love for which they are made?

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear. (First reading)

The only way to become a “word of love” to the weary is to place your head upon the heart of Jesus, as John did at the Last Supper. That really is the quintessential image of prayer: being alone with Jesus so you can speak to Him from the heart, and listen to His Heart speak to yours. Then, you will find the wisdom and capacity to begin to love as He loves, to become joy to others in a world that has lost its joy, to see goodness where goodness is often unnoticed.

However, as we read in the Psalm and Gospel today, our joy, zeal, and even love can be violently rejected. But even then we can become a “word of love” for those who persecute us:

The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3:16)

It was precisely in seeing the goodness and potential for godliness in fallen humanity that precipitated the great Sacrifice of Jesus. He saved us because we could be saved. And He loved us first. [6]cf. Rom 5:8

Let us not wait for others to come to us then, but go out today, whether it is in the marketplace, classroom, or office, and look for the goodness in others. That is, love them first.

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)


Thanks for your prayers. You are a blessing to me.


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1 cf. Why Aren’t the Popes Shouting?
2 cf. On the Eve
3 cf. Gen 1:31
4 cf. Gen 1:27
5 Gen 1:27
6 cf. Rom 5:8