I fell victim to being prejudged twice in the same day just a short while ago. This is in addition to the usual batch of suppositions and assumptions people make of a guy simply because he is wearing a Roman Collar. The first was when I was trying to exit the parking lot at the hospital. I was coming down one of the ramps when someone pulled in front of me and came to a complete stop so that the front of my car was aimed at the driver’s side window. I knew he had absolutely no idea I was there. I was in no particular hurry and so I thought I’d give him a little while to get his bearings. Then another driver pulled up behind him who had no patience at all. He plastered his hand on the horn visibly shaking up the man in the offending car. As unaware of me as he might have been, it was apparent that he was even LESS aware of the guy behind him. Thinking it was I who had blown the horn at him he turned and glared at me in all my glory, collar and all, and shot me nasty look and mouthed something that I was sure had nothing to do with any benefit to my soul. There was nothing for me to do. He took off so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to shrug my shoulders with an apologetic look in my face – or perhaps to point vehemently at the antagonist that was behind him, “He did it! He did it!”
But as bad as that was, it did not make me feel nearly as bad as the misjudgment of my character that happened when I got back to the rectory. With the embers of, “You can live with someone hating you mistakenly like this,” finally dying down came the discovery of a long and gracious message on the answering machine thanking me whole-heartedly for the wonderful flowers I had left at the hospital and how thoughtful it was of me to do such a thing. Apparently the calling card I left in the patient’s absence was misinterpreted as coming with a bunch of flowers that had arrived after I left. How embarrassing to have to say, “No, I actually wasn’t all that thoughtful. But now I wish I were.”
I know I judge people all the time. Throw a cigarette butt out the window and you’ll earn my ire. (A friend knows how much this disturbs me and got me a bumper sticker that stated, “Keep your butts in the car and drive,” but I was too much of a coward to put it on my car.) But let me cut in traffic and I will include you in my next rosary.
I’m trying to break myself of the whole judging thing. Who knows what is in people’s hearts and minds in even seemingly obvious situations? Besides, who needs prayers more, someone doing something you like, or someone doing something uncharitable? It’s nice to pray for people we judge to be good and worthy of our time and effort, but it is perhaps more beneficial for those who don’t, for there is a far better chance of them converting and we being able to be friends if we pray for them in their apparent brokenness rather than prejudging them and refusing prayer or friendship thereby completing the circle and sealing off the possibility of healing. I wish I could remember to whom this should be attributed, but someone once said, “Those who are in most need of love (and I would add prayers) are seldom those who are deemed most worthy of it. Thus it is the sinner who most needs prayers but often is the least prayed for.” (Or something like that.)