Is It You, Again?

homeless-billYesterday’s sermon from Matthew 25 hinted at the idea that Christ is in every hungry, thirsty, shivering, lonely, sick, or imprisoned person we encounter.  It reminded me of a paragraph from Kathleen Norris’s book Dakota that has brought a smile to my face over and over again through the years.  Let me share it with you here:

Visits to monasteries are as old as monasteries themselves.  We think of monks as being remote from the world, but Saint Benedict, writing in the sixth century, notes that a monastery is never without guests, and admonishes monks to “receive all guests as Christ.”   Monks have been quick to recognize that such hospitality, while undoubtedly a blessing, can also create burdens for them.  A story said to originate in a Russian Orthodox monastery has an older monk telling a younger one: “I have finally learned to accept people as they are.  Whatever they are in the world, a prostitute, a prime minister, it is all the same to me.  But sometimes I see a stranger coming up the road and I say, ‘Oh, Jesus Christ, is it you again?'”

If you say it with just the right inflection, it sums up everything we often feel when we are confronted with the needs of the world.  But if you say it often enough it will also remind you of who is watching and why it matters that we respond with compassion.

2 thoughts on “Is It You, Again?

  1. Yesterday’s message was a powerful reminder to me of the imperative to help those who are in need–not just the most destitute. I am most often on the giving end of ministry, less often on the receiving. But I recall an incident that happened when my daughter was four–just the age of my youngest granddaughter. It was a cold, blustery December Saturday; traffic was heavy. We were in an accident not of our making and were stranded on a railroad track at the corner of Huguenot and Robioius Roads. This was prior to the advent of cell phones and someone had gone to phone for help. Standing in the middle of the road beside my wrecked car with a crying child in my arms, I was astounded at the number of people who passed by and looked the other way. One was the pastor of a nearby church where we had sung just the week before. Another was a deacon and his family from the church we attended. Surely someone would stop and help. No one did. Finally the police came and we were able to get the help we needed. (I guess I need to forgive those folks, huh?)

    This morning, my daughter called to ask for help this afternoon because her van was wrecked. She had been on the way to take her girls to school when someone hit her van broadside between her seat and the rear seat where one daughter was sitting. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But her story is different from mine. The accident happened just a few blocks from the girls’ school, so everyone on their way to school–the principal, teachers, parents, and students– stopped to see what they could do. One person even pulled out some blankets because it was so cold. They must have heard yesterday’s sermon!

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