I do not know his name. I have no insights into his story. I merely know what I saw. On a nameless street in a major financial center, he stood out. He was in black tie, a conservative well-pressed tuxedo with a crisp starched white ruffled shirt. I have seen others in this area in the same attire. I have been in black-tie just up the road. Given the rain, his matching hat had a plastic wrap in place as one might expect.
What made this unusual was the time and behavior. It was nine-thirty in the morning on a weekday. There was no holiday in sight. The tall cheap beer he held in his hand talked to everyone looking his way. As I approached, I had did not know what to do or say. I looked into his hostile eyes, smiled, and said hello in my mind. The silence between us almost exploded as I passed. I could feel the pressure ease with each step I took beyond him crumpled stance.
I know that he appeared hostile, yet I wonder if this was merely an echo of my confusion. When I listened to Peter, when he “took the floor: ‘Friends, you well know that from early on God made it quite plain that he wanted the pagans to hear the Message of this good news and embrace it—and not in any secondhand or roundabout way, but firsthand, straight from my mouth.’” (Acts 15.7) I know that I did not share the good news.
I, at best, was empathetic and compassionate. I wonder if my reaction would have been different if it had been a friend. I know I would have intervened if it had been family. I would act if the individual were from my community.
Even as I write and talk to my soul, I know my last words are not truth. This unnamed man has a name. In the same way as you and me, he is part of God’s family. That makes him part of our community. He is our brother.
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