It was a cold winter day when Mary decided to go into a McDonalds for breakfast. The restaurant was crowded and as she waited in one of the lines, she noticed that the other lines were long and hers was short. In fact, people were moving away from her line to get in other lines. Soon she recognized what was going on. Toward the front of her line were two homeless men. They hadn’t shaved in days, their hair was matted and dirty, and they “reeked” of body odor. They were being ignored by the waitress and were trying to come up with enough money to buy a cup of coffee. They were obviously hungry and cold. Mary stepped forward to the two men in spite of the smell and asked them if she could help them. They were very grateful and asked if she could help them get a cup of coffee to warm themselves. Mary said, I am here to have breakfast, so why don’t I just buy breakfast for all of us and we will share it together. She did so, paid for it and went to a table with the two men to eat with them.
The men, who were used to being ignored, threatened, or completely shunned by other people, were amazed. They couldn’t believe this was happening to them! One of them asked Mary for a hug and she gave each of them one as tears ran down their faces. One said: It’s been a very long time since I’ve had a hug. Why are you doing this for us? Mary told them “I am a follower of Jesus, and I know that God loves each of you—-and so do I. I’m just doing what I think Jesus would do”.
Jesus began his ministry, according to the Gospel of Luke, at his home synagogue in Nazareth. He defined the purpose of his ministry in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. And after rolling up the Scroll he told the synagogue crowd: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God and showed us that God was a God of love and mercy. He didn’t just tell us that, he showed it by what he did. Jesus healed the sick; he opened the eyes of the blind; he raised the dead; he advocated for the poor and the helpless , the outcasts and the discarded in his culture. Mary (above) was right. What she did was what Jesus would have done because that is what he did when he walked this earth.
In our world today we see and hear much about Christianity. Jesus is talked about a lot.In polls, 85% of us in the U.S. say we are Christians. Of that number two thirds say they’ve made a personal commitment to Jesus. Posters on FaceBook say “Like if you love Jesus”. Tee shirts, bumper stickers, posters, all tell of love for Jesus. Talk is cheap. Words do not transform people. Actions do! The Epistle of James gives this good counsel: “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”
Richard Rohr describes our “Christian” nation well in his book Jesus’ Plan for a New World: “We keep worshiping the messenger. Keeping Jesus up on statues and images, so we can avoid what Jesus said. It’s the best smokescreen in the world! We just keep saying, “We love Jesus” The more we talk about Jesus the less we’ll do what he said.”
Jesus told his disciples as he journeyed to Jerusalem where he would be put to death, and he says the same to any of us who want to follow him today: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
Be doers of the word and not hearers only! This world would be a better place if all of those who say they are Christians acted like Christians.