We were in line at the ice cream store when I noticed him. His face bore the marks of too many fights—a crooked nose and some scars. His clothes were rumpled, though clean. I stepped between him and my children, using my back to erect a wall.

The first time he spoke, I didn’t hear him clearly and so just nodded to acknowledge him. I scarcely made eye contact with him. Because my wife wasn’t with me, he thought I was a single parent and gently said, “It’s hard raising them alone, isn’t it?” Something in his tone made me turn to look at him. Only then did I notice his children, and I listened to him tell me how long his wife had been gone. His soft words contrasted with his hard exterior.

I was duly chastened! Once again I had failed to see beyond outward appearances. Jesus encountered people whose outward appearance could have turned Him away, including the demon-possessed man in our reading for today (Mark 5:1-20). Yet He saw the heart-needs and met them.

Jesus never fails to see us with love, even though we have scars of sin and a rumpled nature that shows in our stutter-step faithfulness. May God help us to replace our haughtiness with Jesus’ heart of love.