Reflections: February 2019

By Father Chris Thomas

I was in London recently for a meeting. Afterwards I headed down to Piccadilly Circus to one of the large bookshops there before I was to get the train home. As I walked along, I was distracted by a man who was begging. He looked cold, hungry and had obviously hit rock bottom. I crouched on the pavement next to him and began a conversation. He’d been in the army. When he came out, he couldn’t connect with society, became violent, went to prison and then on to the streets. He told me that he drank to keep warm. I got him a sandwich and some coffee and left him feeling really disheartened.

I then went to Euston Station. I was sitting on a bench outside with a coffee when a man called Eddie sat down opposite me. He was anxious, jumpy and from the colour of his skin and the light sheen of sweat on his face, it was obvious that he was on the edge. He had some money but wanted more to get a place in a night shelter. I went with him to the shelter and, with the money he had, found him a place there for the night.

Eventually I got on the train and sat opposite a man who was full of his own importance. He began to tell me what he did for a living. Yet behind all the bluff and the bluster I could see a lonely man whose only value as far as he was concerned lay in what he had done with his life and what he possessed. I realised again that poverty of spirit is as bad as physical poverty.

What’s the answer to all that brokenness in the world, to the pain that we all experience in life? For those of us who are Christian, it’s Jesus. I love John’s Gospel and some of the scholars have come to the conclusion that, for John, there is only one sin and that is not to believe that you are a son or a daughter of God. All the things that we call sins are simply a symptom of not knowing who we are in the sight of God. All that brokenness is dealt with by Jesus.

The revelation of the heart of God that we see in the crucified one is not Jesus paying blood money to a God who has to be appeased for sin. No, Jesus is revealing to us the face of God which is, always has been, and always will be pure unconditional love, and it is in this love that our brokenness is healed. Let us trust this love as we journey this year.