Today’s Reading: Luke 1:26-56 (additional reading: Psalm 57:1-11 & Proverbs 11:9-11)
You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you are going down the first drop of a roller coaster. It’s the same feeling when you hear horrible news. Your stomach feels like it has just been kicked in. The New Testament has a Greek word for that feeling; it is “Splagchna.” It literally means bowels or guts, but it is translated “Compassion.”
That is Mary is singing about in today’s read, God’s amazing compassion for us. Verse 50 “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation”, He has filled the hungry with good things; He has helped his servant. Jesus is our standard for compassion. True compassion is when you are the one who bears the burden and pays the price. Jesus sheds tears for those that shed His blood.
Basil the great said “The bread that is spoiling in your house belongs to the hungry. The shoes that are mildewing under your bed belong to those who have none. The clothes stored away in your trunk belong to those who are naked.”
Rabbi Michael Weisser lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. And for more than 3 years, Larry Trapp, a self-proclaimed Nazi & Ku Klux Klansman, directed a torrent of hate-filled mailings & phone calls toward him. Trapp promoted white supremacy, anti-Semitism, & other messages of prejudice, declaring his apartment the KKK state headquarters & himself the grand dragon. His whole purpose in life seemed to be to spew out hate-ridden racial slurs & obscene remarks against Weisser & all those like him.
At first, the Weissers were so afraid they locked their doors & worried themselves almost sick over the safety of their family. But one day Rabbi Weisser found out that Trapp was a 42-year-old clinically blind, double amputee. And he became convinced that Trapp’s own physical helplessness was a source of the bitterness he expressed.
So Rabbi Weisser decided to do the unexpected. He left a message on Trapp’s answering machine, telling him of another side of life…a life free of hatred & racism. Rabbi Weisser said, “I probably called 10 times & left messages before he finally picked up the phone & asked me why I was harassing him. I said that I’d like to help him. I offered him a ride to the grocery store or to the mall.”
Trapp was stunned. Disarmed by the kindness & courtesy, he started thinking. He later admitted, through tears, that he heard in the rabbi’s voice, “something I hadn’t experienced in years. It was love.” Slowly the bitter man began to soften. One night he called the Weissers & said he wanted out, but didn’t know how. They grabbed a bucket of fried chicken & took him dinner. Before long they made a trade: in return for their love he gave them his swastika rings, hate tracts, & Klan robes. That same day Trapp gave up his Ku Klux Klan recruiting job & dumped the rest of his propaganda in the trash. “They showed me so much love that I couldn’t help but love them back,” he finally confessed.
If that could happen in Lincoln, Nebraska, what could happen in your community, in your neighbourhoods, if we truly began to live lives that showed the love of Jesus to those around us?