Human Insensitivity and God’s Incarnation

One of the experiences in the US that had a tremendous impact on Bharathi (my wife) and me was the life of a homeless person. On August 28, 2009 I was going to a mall (Target) to buy something. On the way I saw a homeless person sitting in front of a fast food shop. When he saw me he said that he was very hungry. I immediately gave him some money and went on my way to the mall. On my return I saw the homeless person sitting in the same place eating a sandwich that he bought with the money I gave. I shared this with Bharathi. I felt really bad for this person’s situation.

Again on August 31, 2009 Bharathi and I went to the same mall. It was a very hot day. After buying things there, I told Bharathi that I would like to go for a haircut and asked Bharathi whether she would like to come. The barber was a friend of mine. When no customer was around, we talk politics. After my haircut, on our way back we thought of buying Chinese food. We stood at a place to cross the road and we saw a homeless person crossing the road on the other side, pushing a cart with his belongings. Before he reached the other end he collapsed and fell down on the road. I thought that he must have either been drunk or taken drugs. So we did not go to his rescue. A woman crossed the road from our side of the road, and helped the man to get to his feet. Meanwhile another woman came and both women helped him to a nearby shade. We were watching everything standing at a safe distance. Bharathi told me that he collapsed, most probably, due to hunger and (Sun) heat. We both felt ashamed of our behavior and were guilty for watching from a safe distance like spectators at the person who was in dire need. The next day in our morning family prayer we both cried for our insensitive conduct.

I realized that it is easy to throw some money at the needy, or write a cheque, but it is very difficult to be with those or identify with those in need. This incident taught me a great truth about incarnation of God. I always thought why God had to incarnate. God could have stayed back in heaven and done something else to “save” us. Or God could have “evangelized” human beings staying at a safe distance. But God did not do that. Through incarnation God has identified with human beings, who are in need. God became vulnerable. This vulnerability and identification with the weak, vulnerable and needy is seen in Jesus’ association with the poor, the sick and the marginalized. This is the essence of compassion, which in turn is the essence of incarnation.

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