I Am Human

I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me. – Terence

These words are lines from a play written by the ancient playwright, Publius Terentius Afer (c. 195/185 – c. 159? BC). Terrence, as he is more commonly known in English, was a Roman playwright of Berber descent who was taken to Rome as a slave. The first time I heard this line was in Maya Angelou’s humanities class when I was a senior in college at Wake Forest University, where she was a professor for many years. Terrence’s words, spoken in Angelou’s deep, resonating voice never left me.

I think about these words in relationship to Jesus’s injunction not to judge, lest we may be judged with the same judgement we make. How often do we cast judgement – be it to someone whose terrible choices have made the evening news or a friend who did not take our advice. I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.

I think about it in relationships to the great I am statements in John: I am the Bread of Life; I am the Light of the World; I am the Good Shepherd; I am the Resurrection and the Life. Jesus also wept in John. Jesus was human. Nothing human is alien to him – no heartbreak; no emotion; no high nor any low; which means that nothing human is alien to God. I think this is why Peter fell to his knees when he realized that his teacher was also his God. Peter was too human coming face-to-face with God. Too much shame; too much not enough; too much unresolved, yet Jesus did not judge Peter, he called him by name; he put him to work; he loved him beyond measure. I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.

I think about it in relationship to all that divides us one from the other – oceans and languages; railroad tracks and race; wealth and status; able and disabled; internal and external walls; dehumanizing language; yet we are all human, broken and beautiful, made in the image of God, who made himself human that we might know more about the wonders and ways of God. I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.


Lord, open us to the human in one another
so that we may also know the divine, revealed in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

 

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