We’re all familiar with the Gospel reading in which Jesus tells us, “whatever you do to the least of these, you’ve done until me”… and it’s probable that we all try our best to treat others as we’d like them to treat us. But author Caryll Houselander is much more direct and practical (probably the most practical of any mystical writer): she brings this notion of “seeing Christ in everyone” right into our kitchens and offices and relationships by challenging us to make it real. That person you’re arguing with—if they were Christ, would it change the way you put your point across? Would it change the way you listen as they put their point across? It’s a sobering thought, but you can do it!
- Visualization: We all have images in our minds of what Christ looks like. When you feel angry, or upset, or vexed with someone, take a few minutes on your own to visualize. Think about the person with whom you’re upset. And now visualize Jesus taking that person’s place. Imagine him there in front of you. How would you handle the situation now?
- Question yourself. Encounters with others always change us in some way or another. How do you talk to the people around you? How do you relate to the people at the shop, at the office, at school? Are you treating them as though they were Christ? How could you change that?
- Practice, practice, practice! It’s easier to see Christ in the abstract, in people we pass by every day. It’s harder to see him in the person in the cubicle next to yours, in the nosy neighbor, in the houseguest overstaying their welcome. It doesn’t happen all at once. Every day you have to recommit to responding to those people as though they were Jesus. But practicing helps!
Seeing Christ in others isn’t just a way of responding to the Gospels. After you do it long enough, you’ll find that people respond to you. In the end, that makes for a kinder world. And that’s something we all can live with!