James 2:1,8-10,12-13 – My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favouritism. If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbour as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement!
From the corner of my eye, I first glimpsed him. Loosely fitting clothes, well worn and soiled. I walked purposefully toward my Ford Explorer. Wool-suited, suede-shoed, paycheque cashed. Confidently, I walked. Head held high. He staggered. Eyes downcast. Grasping first the wall, then a parking meter, then a post. Red-faced from drinking Aqua Velva filtered through a loaf of bread. Erroneous in his belief that it would do him no harm. He gingerly made his way past my Ford Explorer. If he saw it, he never indicated by lifting his head or even glancing my way. I saw him. I pitied him. I, the smug Levite passing by, never once seeking to help him. To my shame.
Would our Lord Jesus have called out to him, "Friend, may I go with you?" Would He have taken his elbow to steady him, or offered His own work-worn, nail-pierced hand? Would He have shared His own loaves and fish with him? Certainly Jesus would have healed him of his disease.
Jesus died for him just as He died for me. St. Paul wrote, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)
That applies to the staggering gentleman and it applies to me, the well-heeled wandering Pharisee. While his sin was obvious for all to see and judge, mine was no less repugnant to God. In fact, it probably was more so. My sin was to judge him and to fail to help him. Sins of commission and omission.
Prayer: God of Love, in Jesus' name I confess my own fault and ask Your pardon for failing You, another wanderer, and myself. Grant me Your loving perspective. Grant me courage and strength to reach out. Enable me to express Your love tangibly to others. May my hands and feet be used by You to reach out to the lost who wander in a bleak wasteland world. For I pray in the Name of the One who died for us all. Amen.