Scripture: Luke 7:36-47
A television spot produced by the Franciscan Production Center showed a Catholic Sister in the midst of a leper colony, surrounded by disease, death, and despair, caring for a group of Indian lepers. An off-screen voice comments, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars!” The sister turns slowly to the camera and says, “neither would I.”
In his book, Unconditional Love, John Powell says, “There is no third possibility: love is either conditional or unconditional. Either I attach conditions to my love for you, or I do not. To the extent that I do attach such conditions, I do not really love you. I am only offering an exchange, not a gift. And true love is and must always be a gift.”
As we purpose to become more intentional in love, the first prerequisite is the right attitude, and that is: UNCONDITIONAL. Unfortunately, an attitude of unconditional love is easy to talk about in theory because it is something that does not come naturally to humans.
On Thursday of last week, I was eating by myself for lunch and noticed a lady siting across the room. Her thin sunken cheeks and the loneliness in her eyes looked familiar and it wasn’t long before I remembered that back in March, this lady was part of our hypothermia outreach. I spoke to her and she remembered me also. I could tell by her voice, obviously damaged by years of smoking, that things were not going so well. Embarrassed, she told me she was still without a home, but she remembered Centerpointe Church and how loving and kind everyone was. I gave her money enough to buy a couple of meals and told her to stop in and see us whenever she walks by. I prayed with her and gave her a hug and we said “goodbye.” Later I saw her again, smoking on the sidewalk. My guess is that some of the money I gave her would be used to buy cigarettes and not food, but that really didn’t matter. I didn’t give the money to her with conditions, but out of a sense of compassion that only comes through Jesus.
As I write this, my nostrils can still smell what Centerpointe church smelled like during the hyperthermia week and I remember saying to someone, “It smells like Jesus’ love in here.”
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t always been as kind to the homeless. I am guilty of justifying my lack of concern with “there is a reason why they are homeless.” But something changed when I sat down and talked to the ones who came to church last March. I found out that each person has a name and a story, and no one planned to be homeless.
I’m so glad Jesus knows my name and my story, and when I was lost, He provided a home.
Dear Lord,Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Help me to see others through your eyes of love and compassion. Help me to know people’s names and listen to their stories and lead them to you.