Show no Partiality

Friends in Christ,    
From today’s 1st Reading, it is evident that the early Church had some problems of people showing favoritism.  ‘If a man with fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person with shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay more attention to the one wearing the fine clothes, then have you not made distinctions among yourselves?’      

St. James is warming against the unfair treatment of others. This question is part of the Cardinal Virtue of Justice;[i]    Holy Scripture says that ‘God is no respecter of persons.’ (Acts 10:34), and this means that he treats all with equal dignity, regardless of outward appearance, wealth, or nationality. We are supposed to do the same.    

Unfairness happens when one person is given certain privileges,  not because he is more qualified or worthy,  but because he is a certain person – your friend or relative –  or a person who can do you a favor later.       

A coach for example, with little kids, should be fair in who gets to play.  Justice would demand that all the children get a chance to play.  If the coach favors one child because the parents are his friends, this is a violation of justice.      

If a child is allowed to be first in line to receive her Confirmation from the Bishop  because her father is a big donor to the parish,  this would be unjust favoritism.       

I remember at Christmas time, that my parents were always very careful that each child received a similar number or quality of gifts.  Though a parent might feel special attachment to one child,  the parent must be sure that the children are treated with equal dignity.  Of course if a child is sick, more money should be spent on medicine for that child than the others.  So fairness does not mean that all are treated the same,  but rather with equal dignity.       

So we should look at our own behavior.  At a restaurant or at the store,    are we more courteous with good-looking people?  Is there fault-finding with people who happen to be overweight or less attractive? Do we treat smokers or poorly dressed persons differently than we treat others?    

We should look at our heart.  If we are driving, do we find ourselves angry and critical of the mistakes of a driver in the shabby car,  while we find a way to overlook mistakes of the Mercedes Benz?      

Oh, we are patient with those noisy children at Mass,  but are we the same with the children of another race?       

In the pagan world, people favor those whom they please; but we Christians treat everyone with equal dignity, because all are God’s children. 

 


[i] Summa Theologica: Justice, Q63.

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