“Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.”–Acts 3:2
It must have been lovely.
A gate worthy of sheltering the Lord’s temple could be no less. Perhaps it was overlaid with gold. It may have been adorned with intricate carvings or elaborate scrollwork. To be sure, it was worthy of its name.
Yet, sitting in front of this beautiful work of man was one not so beautiful. And he, a work of God.
Every day people passed him by on their way into the temple. Some, taking pity, would throw him a few spare coins. Others, in their fear, looked right through him as if he did not exist, and hurried on their way. Still others, on their way to worship nonetheless, would look at him in scorn and anger, resenting the intrusion that his meager existence created on their conscience.
Then the day came.
“Look at us!” Peter said.
And in doing so a crippled beggar was made whole. In the name of Jesus he was healed.
We, too, pass through our own gates called Beautiful. On our way to the grocery store, to soccer practice or dance, driving back from the shopping mall…
They are always there, reaching out their empty hands to us. Maybe they are in the eyes of a hungry child we see on television. Or in the sound of the Salvation Army bell ringing. The March of Dimes, St. Jude’s, the Red Cross, the American Cancer Society…everywhere we turn our help is implored.
At the place called Beautiful, do we avert our eyes to the not so beautiful? Do we turn our back on a work of God’s own hands? Perhaps we toss down a few spare coins, to ease our guilt. Or lift ourselves up in angry indignation, judging the hands that reach out in need.
As I come to a halt at the stoplight, a man with only one leg stands at the intersection. “Homeless Veteran”, his sign reads, “Will work for food.”
If I rolled down my window, I could reach out and touch him.
I want to invoke the name of our Lord and impart that healing that took place at the gate called Beautiful so long ago.
I cannot make this man whole. Only the Lord knows the circumstances of his life. Only the Lord knows what led him to this street corner holding up his sign of need.
“May God bless you,” I say, as I slip the folded bill into his dirty hand. And I look at him. Into his eyes. I see him. I see a person. A real live work of God. And I smile.
And for just one moment he sees Jesus.
I pull my hand away and drive off. The smell of stale cigarettes and unwashed flesh lingers in the air. I want to wash it away. Instead, I hold my fingers against my nose and softly breathe in the sharp aroma of sorrow and poor choices.
And for just one moment, I see Jesus.
Dear Lord, Help me to love others as you do. As we enter into this day of Thanksgiving, I am so humbly grateful to you, my Love. My life is richly blessed; help me to make it a blessing to others. Sometimes I am not so sure what is the best way to give. Help me to discern your will for this area of my life, Father. Above all, gift me with a supernatural love for the least of these. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Acts 3:3-8, ‘When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.’ (NIV)
Matthew 25:37-40, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (NIV)