by Jennifer Johnson
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
I walked into the parish not knowing what to expect. A large silver bowl filled with water sat in a wooden pedestal in the center of the foyer. As people walked by it, they dipped their fingers into the water, then with a single dab they touched their foreheads, their chests, then each shoulder. Feeling perplexed about this ritual, I gave that bowl a wide berth and made my way to the end of a back pew.
Looking around, I noticed all kinds of people there. I saw white, middle class people, of course, but also people with different skin colors than mine, such as Black, Latino, east Indian, and Asian. There were also people who appeared to be from different income levels, poor and rich alike. I surmised this by their clothing, jewelry, and hair. I also noticed a variety of ages, from the very old in walkers and wheelchairs all the way down to babies. The priest spoke with a heavy Asian accent.
Thus one of my first impressions of the Catholic Church was that everybody is drawn to it, everybody is welcome. I saw with my own eyes that the Gospel really is for everybody. Up to that point, I had heard that the Gospel was for everybody, but my past experiences suggested that only upper middle class, or upper class, white people were drawn to the Gospel.
Fast forward about two and a half years.
Standing in the long line for confession, I looked around and noticed the same thing. All different skin colors. All different apparent income levels. All different ages, minus the babies and toddlers. The man in front of me turned around to ask me a question. He had a thick Irish accent.
I saw how repentance is the door to a relationship with Jesus, and every person desiring a relationship with Jesus must pass through that door, regardless of skin color, income level, etc. Of course I already knew this on an intellectual level, but seeing it in action made the intellectual ideal very real to me.
We can also turn to the Bible and find evidence of equality:
“For there is no partiality with God.”
1 Peter 1:17:
“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth…”
“Opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality…’”
“For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?”
“But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
There are other verses as well.
Let me use an analogy. These experiences were kind of like the difference between reading about football from books, and watching a football game at the stadium. Knowing about the ideal versus seeing it played out with real people were two very different experiences for me.
Do you agree that Christian equality is real?
Jennifer Johnson is Associate Director at RushInstitute.org; she contributes to Ruth Institute Blog, ChristianPost.com, ClashDaily.com, Ricochet