When Jesus appeared before the disciples after the resurrection, they were a little scared. They were wondering what was going on. At first, they did not buy his claim to be Jesus, but this was the beginning of the post-resurrection era and Jesus was reminding them in his own way about the past, the present and what was to come, and in that they recognized him.
At one point he had said to them, “A new commandment I give to you … Love one another as I have loved you.”
Wrapped around those words came the lessons and events where compassion for people, young and old, poor and rich, widows, orphans, you name it, became the reality of his ministry.
He had done remarkable things in front of them during the time he was with them. And now he challenged them to begin to do things in order to usher in a new way of living. At the root of it all was the concept of love, taking care of people in need.
He used the idea of the light that conquers darkness as a key element in his teaching. Being the light, he taught them, you only have to turn up for darkness to be conquered.
The word compassion, a word with roots in biblical Greek, offered the idea to carry the burden of the others. It became a basic motive in the way the apostles carried out their ministry.
So where are we as followers of our resurrected Savior? Are we carriers of the spirit which was so obviously the intent of Jesus coming into the world? Well, open your eyes and see how people are reaching out to people in need. The following is just one such effort.
On a cold winter day, a gentleman of substantial means was walking through the Bowery in New York City, the part of Manhattan where many homeless men hang out on a daily basis. When he saw how many men were standing around in the cold winter trying to stay warm, something happened inside him. He decided to do something about that. Through a Realtor, he bought a large loft in the vicinity, he bought sleeping bags and through the grapevine he managed to get the word out that the loft would be available for homeless to sleep at night. Through authorities, he found out it was all right to do what he did, but some rules had to apply; no drugs or alcohol could be brought. He decided to trust that the men would abide with the rules.
For those who came to the loft this was a miracle. They realized that someone had decided that all these men mattered, were important, and counted in the scheme of things.
One day a neighbor complained to the police. The police raided the loft and arrested a few men caught with drugs and alcohol. The owner of the loft was arrested, too. Giving his name one of the officers recognized him and said, “Sir, you are an important man, and you do not need to do this kind of stuff. Why do you do it?” His answer was very simple. He said. “No one has cared for these men. If I do not do this who else would love and care for them?” When the chief of police heard that, all charges were dropped except for those who had violated the rules.
The year 2018 is only the current time of the post-resurrection era. And those of us who still claim to be part of the God-created humanity will care and love and let the compassion flow, and the light will shine in the darkness where needed.
Why? Because God is involved!
Rev. Oluf Kongshaug is a parish associate at First Presbyterian Church in Delaware.