I walked into the cafeteria, trying to hold myself together. Several of my classmates ran up to me, “What did she say to you?”
The dam broke and tears poured down my cheeks. I could not bear to repeat the words of my teacher. I had reminded her of a slight schedule change on that Friday for seniors—early lunch—and she had held me after class and called me things I never thought a person would call me.
Stuck up. Conceited. Rude.
She had not liked me from the start, she said. Then, apparently, I became more likable in her eyes for a time. But after this small act on behalf of my fellow students, I had lost her good opinion entirely.
Yet, I had to face her for two classes for the rest of that semester, sitting under her disapproving gaze, submitting my work to her judgment. My friends convinced me to talk to the principal to work out the details. There were apologies on both sides.
But I remember that lesson of being misjudged—of someone I trusted not giving me the benefit of the doubt and presuming me to have ill intentions.
In today’s Gospel, right after calling us to love our enemies, commanding us not to judge others, and asking us to forgive, the Lord tells us to give generously (see Luke 6:27-38). I have often taken this call to generosity to include the way we perceive others.
The Lord asks us to be generous in how we think of others when they do not act in a way that we think they should. He asks us to be generous when we think we see an act of omission. He asks us to believe the best of people even when we have been hurt.
It is so easy to jump to judgments instead of seeking to understand. Understanding where people are coming from, really seeking to know who they are, is hard work. But the Lord promises to show us the same generosity that we show to others.