30 July, Friday — Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Jul 30 – Memorial for St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop & Doctor

An adult convert, St. Peter (406-450) fought paganism and heresy, enforced reforms, and built several churches and ornate altars in his see. A preacher with outstanding language skills, he was given the name ‘Chrysologus’, referring to his ‘golden word’. 176 of his sermons have survived; it is the strength of these beautiful explanations of the Incarnation, the Creed, the place of Mary and John the Baptist in the great plan of salvation, etc., that led to his being proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1729.

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Lev 23:1,4-11,15-16,27,34-37
Mt 13:54-58

“A prophet is only despised in his own country and in his own house.”

Let’s be honest. Have you ever been judgmental? Have you ever jumped to conclusions about someone, particularly someone close, about their abilities, actions or intentions?

I remember this so very vividly. When I was a child, I trusted my schoolteachers completely. Everything they said was accepted by me without reserve. When doing homework and coming across a problem I couldn’t solve (usually a math problem), I would ask my older sister, who was much brighter than me. But then, I would not trust her answer because the way she solved it was different from what I was taught at school. I did not believe her.

When reading the Gospel from Matthew today, I often wondered if Jesus encountered the same kind of prejudice I showed my sister. Did the people in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth disbelieve because they knew Him from His childhood? Is it because when you know someone for a long time, you know his or her abilities and that they cannot change over time? Do we think we know how they should behave based on our ‘knowledge’ of the person(s)? Do we think we have the right to judge them if they do not behave as we expect them to?

In this Gospel message, God may be telling us that we should not judge or be biased. We should not judge people we don’t know, much less the people we do know. How can we say we fully know someone else when we don’t even know ourselves well? How can we deny people the opportunity or right to change, while we credit ourselves with positive changes all the time? With the exception of God, who never changes, Jesus was, is and will ever be, the Son of God. 

Here’s an example of what judgement could lead us to miss out on. During the Alpha course, there was a presentation by one convert who was a hardened criminal and who had done jail time. He was not one who you would want to encounter or mess with. Through the grace of God, he came to know Jesus and became a Christian. His life was turned around 180°. He is now an evangelist in England, married and has children. If one had written him off and ‘disbelieved’ his story, then one would miss out on the occasion or the witness of God’s mighty and powerful grace in the transformation of an individual.

Often, we focus on the person or our opinion of the person. Instead, we should focus on the transforming power of God, who often uses the person’s conversion to touch, and to soften our hardened hearts.

Therefore, let us not judge others, especially those who are close to us. They may be an instrument whom God chose to use, to lead us closer to Him. Don’t miss the opportunity just because we are too familiar with them.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help us to not be judgmental of others, but to be open to all the good works that You have achieved through them.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for Your mercy and transforming power, to heal every one of us, even when it seems that we are hopeless and not worthy. 


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