Seventeen

By Jan Lancaster –

Seventeen people have lived with us. Over the years, my husband and I have shared our home with several relatives, friends, and people we didn’t know.

Jan Lancaster

Jan Lancaster

There were the two homeless brothers-in-law with their respective daughters, one in 1994 and one in 2011-13. There was the woman getting divorced who left us with two beloved cats.  There were the two young nephews who stayed two months, while one of them learned not to bite others.  There was the 16-year-old nephew who didn’t want to leave when his parents moved.  There was the infirm mother who lived with us for three years and died in our home, having learned that love is the meaning of life.  There was the teenage girl who stayed for a month to get her bearings.  There was the woman with two children who was intensely fearful her ex-husband would find them.  There was the very nice woman with two daughters, who attempted suicide in our home.

We all love the stories about how hospitality and graciousness in the neighborhood turned out well.   Many of these situations, however, ended painfully. In Jesus’ topsy-turvy teachings, he says that helping another is helping him (Matthew 25:40).  Most people don’t do it because they are rewarded. They do it because these other hurting people represent Christ.  If people care about those with whom they share their homes, they often get their hearts broken.  I think that happens a lot to Jesus — he shares his home with us and tries to be our Brother and our Lord, and he gets his heart broken. I break his heart whenever I ignore someone in need in my neighborhood and my world.

“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink?  When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear?  When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.'”– Matthew 25:37-40.

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