In Like Manner


Luke 10:37: “You go, and do likewise.” (Jesus, after telling the parable of the Good Samaritan)

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that, after you greet someone, they are like as not to return your greeting with words that are similar if not identical.

For example, if I see someone for the first time at church and say, “Hi!,” then he or she is most likely to say, “Hi” or “Hi, how are you?” I have noticed this, and wondered why it seems to almost inevitably to be the case. You will be relieved to know that I have several thoughts about this matter.

One is that when we do this, we are engaging in “mirroring,” that is, reflecting back what we see or hear to indicate our approval of what is going on. Another way to say this is that we validate each other by doing so.

Something else that happens is that we are acknowledge each other. It’s a “hello, I see you and am responding to you” moment. When I taught, and before I understood this, I was always irked by students who came into the room, saw that I had a movie projector set up in the back with the film reel on it, ready to go, and ask, “Are we seeing a movie today?”

I wanted in the worse way to say something snide like, “No. I think nothing enhances the décor of a room like an RCA 16-mm projector, in bronze and silver tones, don’t you?” but I didn’t. Finally I figured out it was my students’ way of saying, “Hello, I’m here, and I want to you to recognize that by saying something to me.”

Now, it could be that we just can’t think of anything original to say back to those we meet, but I think that might be just a small part of it. When we do this, we are about a vital part of relating to others, and that, I think, is where the spiritual dimension comes in. God sent Jesus to give us a perfect mirror, and Jesus’ ministry on earth showed us those qualities and actions—love, forgiveness, compassion, provision—that we should be about. And when we do, we have a small glimpse into the mirror we call heaven. May this be so in our actions and in our lives. Amen.