We all know Jesus told us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” So it shouldn’t be too much to expect Christians to respect everyone they meet.
But St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, realized that respect is more than just a matter of the heart. That’s why he instructed his followers not only to respect others, but to show respect for them.
“Preserve yourself in peace and true humility of soul, keeping silence when silence should be kept and, when you must speak, speaking with discretion,” he advised. “May your peace and humility show in the modesty of your countenance, the maturity of your walk, and in all your movements, without showing any sign of impatience or pride. In everything, try and desire to give the advantage of others, esteeming them all in their hearts as better than yourself.”
The key to being able to do this, Ignatius advised, was to see the image of God in every neighbor.
While it’s not always easy to do, it’s important even from a practical standpoint. That’s because people tend to live up to or down to expectations. If we set our expectations high, we can be disappointed some of the time — as Jesus surly was by his disciples.
In contrast, if we set our expectations low, we are seldom disappointed — but as people live down to our expectations, their God-given potential to grow and contribute is retarded. We get what we expect, but it’s seldom what we want and it’s always less than it might have been with more regard and respect.
Adapted and used with permission from Take Five: On-the-Job Meditations with St. Ignatius by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Kris D. Stubna, Copyright © by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.
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