You may not know that I started out in college studying political science. It wasn’t that I wanted to run for public office. More that that was a typical track on the way to entering law school. Seminary was never a thought — just learning the laws of the land to be able to fight for justice for those who had been wronged. How all that changed, God knows! For it was a call to professional ministry during a mission trip when I first witnessed the true injustice of poverty that turned things around.
In a powerful book entitled Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation (published in 1995), Jonathan Kozol quotes a pastor serving a destitute area in the South Bronx. Kozol quotes: “Looking into the eyes of a poor person is upsetting because normal people have a conscience. Touching the beggar’s hand, meeting his gaze, makes a connection. It locks you in. It makes it hard to sleep, or hard to pray. If that happened, you might be profoundly changed, the way Paul was changed” (p. 223 – BTW: consider reading this book! Though dated, it’s eye-opening and amazing!).
Again and again in my life, I have found the wisdom of these words ringing true. Looking into the eyes of any hurting person, I have found connection. I always have the choice to turn away — to keep the pain of another from piercing my own heart. We all do. Though I have found much greater joy in the journey of making the connection. Seeing what unites us all. Locking in at a deeper level so that we can carry one another along in life. At times I wonder if it is in fact our hurts — our experiences of great challenge — that are the only things able to melt the divides between us. To move us from the surface of what our eyes may see, further down to a soul level. That we may see the way Christ sees.
Somewhere I’ve read that Christ saw God in everyone. In fact, Jesus’ parable of Matthew 25:31-46 invites us into this very same life — seeing in the face of everyone the face of God. Making connection that all might Live.
May it be so through each of us this day!