Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:23-25
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
Jesus was attracting a large crowd of followers across a wide geographical area. Jesus was teaching and preaching and he was also “healing every disease and sickness among the people.” This healing ministry of Jesus was touching upon a need for the people that lived in a land of darkness. The light of the world was shining through that darkness and those who had been unnoticed and forgotten suddenly had hope.
Just a few years ago, I can’t remember seeing many homeless people around the area that I work in East Athens. But over the last year, I know of at least two men who slept outside under a tree for about four months. I came to know one of the men very well as I would see him and talk with him almost daily. This gentleman would stand on the corner at the stop light and hold up a sign asking for money. I tried not to judge whether this man was able to work and look for a job, but many others did, and I did also on several occasions.
There was something about this man that I thought was a little different. He was very polite and was always smiling and rather upbeat. Many people thought that his politeness was a disguise for some ulterior motive that he had. And many people would simply fail to notice this man and not give him or his circumstances any thought.
One day when a local police officer was shot, this man asked me for a dollar that he needed to buy this officer a $4 get well card. We went over to the card aisle, he picked out a card, we went to the register and he paid for the card. He was concerned that the officer had been shot and he wanted to express his gratitude because he said that the officer had always looked out for him and was a friend to him. He gave the card to another officer who delivered the card to the officer’s hospital room that afternoon.
Three weeks ago, this man got a job working at a local fast food restaurant. He came in to tell us his good news and you could just tell how excited and thankful this man was to be working again. He said that this was going to be the best Christmas in many years because he could now afford to buy his loved ones and friends a small gift. He also wanted to thank several of us for being kind and for “being a friend” to him over the past year. Many of us felt guilty that we had questioned this man’s intentions, but we were so happy for his ability to land this job.
Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.