In a word, accept one another as Christ accepted us, to the Glory of God.*
So says the sage Paul and so I should do, but this is hard to do. How can I love my enemy when they are opposed to all I deem good? How can I even love my neighbor when he keeps doing petty evils that are more annoying due to their total lack of necessity. My neighbor gains nothing with his selfishness.
I see who he is!
We are too often like the wise woman without pity Circe** who saw men rightly and so made them pigs. The men of the hero Odysseus came to her island and she enchanted them, but this was only possible, because they were rooting for ruin. These men wanted the world, flesh, and devils. She matched the inner reality to the outer appearance. She was merciless, but truthful.
We see injustice in the world, fleshy men, and devils and we judge them pigs. We transform them to something other than ourselves by the magic of our words. We rage on social media and so, at least in our circles of influence, make them less than they are. As another wiseman put it, we follow our own enthusiasms, for we have seen no vision.*** We see only what is, the piggishness of our fellows, and so judge without mercy. We miss what ought to be: the image of God that is within those piggish men.
Yet the danger is that if we judge with no mercy, then we will find no mercy when we face God. There is a reason Socrates suggested that we must “know ourselves.” If we do not see that we fall short of the glory of God, that we too are piggish in our own ways, then we judge others as we should judge ourselves. Who would claim that they are as they ought to be?
There are so many ways to lie to others and to ourselves. If one lie is saying that all is well, when nothing is good, then there is another lie that cries hopelessness when redemption is freely available. How?
God sees what ought to be and so has mercy. He transforms any who will consent to His great love. God accepts us not because we deserve this grace, but out of love. He made us to be happy and our piggishness is not allowed to stand. We can hope in His love to be better than we are: actual men! This is good news and only hard to believe, because the fulfillment seems distant.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick; a wish come true is a tree of life.”****
Hope is not deferred, transformation is gradual. If not, if the process of becoming like God was done quickly, then nothing would be left of us. Instead, slowly, over our lifetimes, the very root of our piggishness is removed and we are made as we should be. In the end, our deepest wish comes true: we feast at the tree of life- the Cross of Christ. As a result, when we see others, when I see my neighbor or even my enemy, I must accept him as he would be in Christ.