Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More than he bargained for...

Here's something that doesn't happen every day:

I was walking down the street in Philadelphia and a bum came towards me. I mean a dirty, filthy guy. He was covered with soot from head to toe. You couldn't believe how messed up he was. He had this huge beard and there was rotted food stuck in the beard. As he approached me, he held out a cup of McDonald's coffee and said, "Hey mister, want some of my coffee?"

I looked at his dirty, filthy personhood and said, "Thanks, but that's okay," and I walked by him. The minute I passed him, I knew I was doing the wrong thing, so I turned around and said, "Excuse me. I would like some of your coffee." I took some of the coffee and sipped it and gave it back to him. I said, "You're being generous. How come you're being so generous today?"

And this bum looked at me and he said, "Because the coffee was especially delicious today and I think that when God gives you something good, you ought to share it with people."

I didn't know how to handle that, so I said, "Can I give you anything?" I thought that he would hit me for five dollars.

He said, "No." Then he said, "Yeah, yeah. I've changed my mind, there is something you can give me. You can give me a hug."

As I looked at him, I was hoping for the five dollars! He put his arms around me and I put my arms around him. And as I in my establishment dress and he in his filthy garb hugged each other on the street, I had the strange awareness that I wasn't hugging a bum, I was hugging Jesus. I found Jesus in that suffering man.

The bum may have been Jesus, but the man without the coffee was Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. I first heard the story a few weeks ago as related by Pastor Tim Swihart at Seoul International Baptist Church, a church that deserves a better website.

For any non-native speakers not familiar with the idiom, "to hit somebody (up) for some money" means "to ask somebody for some money." Campolo didn't fear that the bum was going to mug him for five dollars, just that the fellow would request that amount of money.

He got more than he bargained for.


At 7:15 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

"When you do this for the least of my brothers..."

Thanks for a great way to start the morning, Jeff.


PS: This story reminds me of the one told about St. Francis's encounter with a leper... though I suppose even that story follows a more basic, more ancient biblical template.

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yeah, it really is a good story because one's cynicism is repeatedly and delightfully disappointed.

I don't recall the St. Francis story -- was it on the Good Samaritan model?

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good afternoon!
At two things was I surprised;
You keep a diary and wrote your thesis on John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts. It is very surprising! I hope that the great peace and the longevity from God the Father be within your family all.
Thank you
from Jedidiah who mentioned about the Cursor Mundi in your class.

At 5:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I didn't know that I had a student named Jedidiah. Are you an Israelite?

I do remember the Cursor Mundi, of course.

But your comment implies that you're only now checking the sidebar of my blog. Hmmm . . . does this mean that you haven't been doing the research for your essay?

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good evening.
Jedidiah is my pet name, which I took in the Old Testament.
Today, it was my first visit to your blog.
I will try to use your useful bolg for learning.
I study for the glory of the Lord GOD and I will. So I prefer learnig itself to only trying to do the research of an essay.
Thank you.

Your class on Medieal and Renaissance Literature is very interesting.

May God's peace be with you.


Post a Comment

<< Home