Wednesday, 4 August 2010

An Encounter With Jesus

We were enjoying a pizza and drink at a street cafe in Poland on a warm summers evening, when Jesus came over to our table.

At first I didn't recognise that it was Jesus, you see he was unshaven and dishevelled, limping badly and walking with the aid of a stick. He looked as though he had been drinking, or may be he was on drugs, or perhaps he had just fallen on hard times. I saw him approaching me, and wished he would just pass by - but he stopped and spoke to me, "Sorry", I said, "I don't speak Polish", to which he replied in broken English, "Can I please have some of your pizza."

I had expected him to ask for money, but when he asked for pizza what could I do? So I handed him one measely piece of pizza, which he took gratefully and walked a few paces and then ate it, before slowly limping away down the street.

It was only after he was gone that I suddenly realised we had been visited by Jesus, and I was overcome with a tremendous sense of guilt. I didn't need that pizza, I had eaten well today, and know that tomorrow I will eat well again, his need was much greater than mine, and yet all I was prepared to give was one slice of pizza, making sure there was plenty left for me. I could have, and should have done so much more. I could have sat him down and offered to buy him a proper meal, to forget about my embarrasesment and worry, and show him that there are people who care, and to give him one of the most precious gifts, the gift of time. But instead I was more concerned that he should move on, and go somewhere else, so I could enjoy my food in peace.

For whatever you do to the least of these dear brothers of mine, you do to me.

Dear Lord forgive me for the times you have come to me in the least, in the broken, in the lonely, in the sad, in the despairing, in the destitute, in the homeless, in the down and out, and I ignored you. Help me to recognise you in others, and be quicker to show love, and compassion.

And for that man tonight - wherever he may be, bless him dear Lord.