Have you ever been in a situation where people have a perception of you that is completely off-base? They may make assumptions about you because of how you look, because of stories they have heard, because of something you did that they misinterpreted.
Have you perhaps got a new job, only to work with an adult who assumes teenagers all have an attitude, or are lazy, or never know anything? Have you joined a team but never got to play the right position to show what you can do? Perhaps the person who misses who you really are is someone who knew you when you were younger and can’t understand that you have changed and grown.
Breaking through other people’s false assumptions can be tough. Sometimes other people’s negative beliefs about us tempt us to start living them out.
If you’re in a group of students who assume you are boring, you can find yourself saying dumb things. If you’re among classmates who assume you’re shallow, you may come out with a comment that confirms their beliefs.
It’s hard to be ourselves in situations that seem hostile. The people in our lives who see us for who we really are, or better yet, who see our best selves, can be miracle workers for us. A teacher who recognizes that we really can learn how to do math. A friend who knows we are funny. A sister or brother who has seen us at our worst and loves us anyway.
Jesus can be a person in our lives who helps us see our best selves. In Sunday’s gospel his scared followers find him in their midst, giving them peace and breathing the Holy Spirit upon them. He forgives their sins and failings and sends them forth to be a community that forgives and cares for others — to be his witnesses in the world.
Awakening people to who they are is one of Jesus’ best things. Mary Magdalene recognizes she is a valuable human being. Peter discovers that he can be a courageous leader even though he denied knowing Jesus during the passion. Thomas discovers his questions lead to faith and awe in the risen Jesus’ presence.
Jesus sees the beauty in every person. Regardless of others’ perceptions of us, he knows our talents, our fears, our struggles, our undiscovered gifts. Today’s writer, Jessica, gained confidence when she realized she shouldn’t be afraid to experience new things.
Spending time with people who affirm us helps us know ourselves better and live into our abilities. Friends, family, teachers, coaches, Jesus — all can help us see ourselves as we truly are and as we can be. Jesus sends us as God sent him: to live the power of love and forgiveness in our world.
Each baptized person must stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and as a sign that God lives.Constitution on the Church, #38.