Vicenza, Italy (CNN) — A few years ago Vinicio Riva boarded a public bus in the northern Italian town of Vicenza. He went toward the nearest vacant seat but before he could sit down the man in the adjacent seat snapped, “Go away! Don’t sit next to me.”
“I wanted to answer back, but I controlled myself,” recalled Vinicio, now 53 years old. “I felt my blood pressure rise.” He stayed on the bus, standing.
“There were lots of people on the bus, and they heard it all, but no one said a word.”
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May we never be those who sit or stand idly by without saying a thing when an injustice takes place. May we welcome the unwelcomed and the uninvited. We might want to ask ourselves just who are those people we dismiss or despise and reject.
We like to think we are all-welcoming, but we’re not. Thinking about those we privately or even publicly disparage–those we do not welcome–will give us a clue. And such knowledge should convict us.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” Jesus said. Loving includes actually welcoming one another–not just saying we do. And if we can actually welcome those who treat us badly and those whom we find repulsive, we are becoming more like Jesus.
*Note* I am never talking about allowing people to abuse us.