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It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Written by Jeff Benson

Recently I saw the trailer for an upcoming film talking about Mr. Rogers as told a journalist interviewing him for a profile piece. During the course of the film, journalist Tom Junod begins to profile Mr. Rogers and befriends the man through understanding the impetus behind why Mr. Rogers behaved the way he did. I watched the trailer, and with all the courage I can muster, I must say I bawled my eyes out thinking about such kindness and what it means to love people unconditionally. My mind immediately was drawn to the crucifix which hangs above my desktop monitor and I beheld my Savior who demonstrated the ultimate act of unconditional love by dying in my place on that cross. Needless to say, it was a one of those ugly cries.

Earlier this week David Lenehan wrote about how Jesus reached out and touched a man with leprosy and healed him. What I find to be the greatest thing about this particular passage is how Jesus did not need to reach out and touch the man. By all matter of Jewish culture, it could even be said that it would have been better to have not touched the man and simply spoken the word to heal him (a feat well within the power of Jesus). Yet, in spite of what might be perceived as the easier way, Jesus became acquainted with that man’s shame. By reaching out and touching him, Jesus immediately was placed in the same position as that man, unclean and rejected by society. Jesus demonstrated true compassion by being fully acquainted with that man’s pain, in order to fully show him God’s perfect love. 

So too I believe we also must fully acquaint ourselves with the pains of others. It’s much too easy for us to be platitudinous with someone in their pain, and not just feel with them. Our culture trains us to be people who “do” rather than just “be”. We must “be” sad with others when they are sad, and not just in a way that is culturally polite. In order to be more like Jesus, we must be willing to be fully acquainted with someone’s pain. To understand what the raw emotions of a situation are and sit with people in the thickest parts of their grief. It’s that unwillingness to depart just because things are messy, that God-given gift of stubbornness that shines a light on the darkest places in people’s hearts. We therefore, must commit ourselves to sit with those who are in pain, and learn the depths it goes. Perhaps then we might be able to see how they are in fact special, because God made that person in His image, and loves them so deeply.

Let us therefore be drawn to the cross of our Lord and Savior, who understands our pain in every dimension conceivable. And not just our visible pain either, but the wounds of our past that we still grieve in the silent corners of our hearts. He is our Healer, and He is the one who stretches out the hand. Let us also then stretch forth our hands and be healed.

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