News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool



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By nature, we are tribal. We are wired to be on our guard against the ‘other’, the outsider. Both politicians and newspaper proprietors understand this and appeal directly to our baser instincts. Asylum seekers and refugees make an easy target. A tough stance on immigration is a vote winner. The popular press make prejudice respectable.


Accusations of ‘institutional racism’ are common. They are routinely denied. ‘I’m not racist but…’ Most prejudice is unconscious. It can be based on accent, clothes, gender or a foreign-sounding name. I’m ashamed to admit that I also make rash judgements based on first impressions. Why should I dislike someone I hardly know?


But it’s when I find my superficial judgments turned upside down that my faith in the Holy Spirit is renewed. The Holy Spirit has a knack of subverting my prejudice. I believe he (or she) has a sense of humour and enjoys proving me wrong. There’s nothing more humbling that hearing a fascinating life story from an unexpected source. ‘Remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.’ (Hebrews 13:2)  


I’m comforted by the few occasions in the Gospels where Jesus’s own prejudices are challenged. He says to the Canaanite woman: ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ He compares her to a house dog. Surprised by her instant rebuttal, Jesus changes His mind: ‘Woman, you have great faith.’


In these Sundays we are reading from the Letter of James. For me it’s the most accessible book in the Bible. James tells it as it is. ‘My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ with the making of distinctions between classes of people.’  

Sunday thoughts

Why should I dislike someone I hardly know?