Jesus In The Bookstore ~ The Rev. Deacon Dollie Wilkinson, OPI
While out and about today, running errands and having lunch with my daughter, we decided to stop in a local coffee shop/bookstore. I happened to notice a gentleman sitting at a table, not with a cup of coffee in front of him, but with a small cart which seemed filled with random bags and other things. He also had a couple tote bags sitting on the floor beside him. While I do not know his story, I just assumed he was homeless, or maybe an individual who was down on his luck.
What circumstances led to this person being in the bookstore? Because it was rather chilly out, I assumed maybe he was just looking for a warm place to sit awhile, before deciding on how he would spend the rest of the day, and night. While I cannot imagine what challenges this man faces, I often wondered what circumstances led to him being without a place to live, or even to spend the night.
Then I began to think about Jesus, who traveled quite a bit, spreading his Father’s message of hope, love, of grace. Did He spend time in public places like this? We know He did, as well as visiting in people’s homes. Such as He did in the home of Lazarus, as described in John 12:1-8:
“Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” “
We know Jesus was warmly welcomed, maybe because He was already known by most of the people in the home. But we also know that there were those (such as Judas Iscariot), who did not believe in treating Jesus as the blessed Savior He was. Of course Judas ends up betraying Jesus, but at this time, we are unsure why he feels it a waste to use the good perfume or oil, to bathe Jesus’ feet. But Mary does so anyway. Jesus recognizes this, and states this same oil will also be used for his burial.
Now, imagine Jesus in our time. Just as the homeless person I noticed today, He would probably have been seen as such. Of course Jesus carried very little with Him, but if the gentleman I saw today, showed up at your door, would you welcome him in to your home? Would you use your best china, serve Him your favorite dishes? Would you be comfortable with Him wishing to use your bathroom, maybe even to take a shower? If this homeless person knocked at your door, would you be like Martha and serve Him a delicious meal, open your finest bottle of wine, and maybe even call a few friends over to share this wonderful occasion? Or would you turn Him away, too quickly judging Him by His appearance, deciding that He isn’t worth the time or effort?
I imagine many folks who saw the homeless gentleman in the bookstore today, would have quickly walked passed him without much thought, too busy with their own concerns. But what if he were Jesus, and He was just resting a bit before continuing on His travels, spreading His message of salvation, of love and hope? Would you be like Mary, and quickly rush to wash this man’s feet, or offer your most expensive oil or perfume, so He may refresh himself? I often wonder what would happen if Jesus walked among us today. Would we even recognize Him? We know many in the gospels did not, but many more did. Would we welcome Him in to our homes, our businesses, our schools? Would we gladly share everything we owned, knowing like Mary, that all we have is because of our blessed Savior?
Just as we are remind of in Matthew 25:40, ““The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “ We must always remember that though Jesus, the Son, does not walk among us today as a man, He still walks among us. Just as Mary and Martha did so many years ago, we need to always welcome Him in to our homes, our lives. Giving Him the best we have to offer, giving Him our all.
Thank you for the words “I often wonder what would happen if Jesus walked among us today. Would we even recognize Him?…” – I doubt any of us would since everyone has a picture identity deeply embedded into our consciousness. Right now I’m thinking of the Joshua series written by the retired priest, Father Joseph Girzone. If I ask person A to share a description and then ask Person B … for a description – and ask Person C to share another perspective — everyone will report Him differently and react and respond differently.
Is He here, alive and walking among us? I say yes. Unequivocally. Yes. Can I point Him out? No. Have I heard His voice? No. Do I know an eye color – a hair color – a stature – a tone of voice – a mannerism – a blemish – a particular outstanding feature? No. But I’ve known of people like the unassuming Joshua. People who Serve … they come into our life to assist in the transformation of peoples’ lives. Ordinary looking people – simple, ordinary looking people who have within them the sacred and divine’carpenters tools’ – They come without fanfare or warning – these unassuming carpenters come into our lives and change us through their random acts of kindness and messages of peace. This is why my answer is unequivocally – YES.