Sometimes, when I find myself in a public place like a busy mall or an airport, I look to the people around me and wonder about their lives. Who are they? What are their struggles? Their joys?
Each person we meet has a unique story. This concept was re-impressed upon me when I was assigned to read C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory for one of my classes. Lewis says that, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and there is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”
Each person we meet will one day experience “immortal horrors” or “everlasting splendours.” Yet, it is not black and white—we cannot clearly split people into those who will become saints and those who are doomed to suffer in hell. For only God can know His people’s hearts. It is our duty, as Christians, to treat every single person we meet with dignity.
C.S. Lewis continues, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere laitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”
Christ is in each one of us—I have heard this countless times before. Yet the realization that when I see the person who lives across from me, I am looking at Christ has not fully dawned upon me until now.
It is so easy to become so taken up in our own lives, our own struggles, that we begin to be completely focused inward. It is easy not to fully consider the needs of those around us. However, as it is said in John 13:34, we are called to love others as Christ has loved us. Every person has worth. Every person has dignity. This is because Christ dwells in every person we meet. In loving our neighbors, we are loving Christ.