Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
One afternoon in 1953, a crowd had gathered at Chicago’s railway station awaiting the arrival of the 1952 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. There was great excitement and anticipation in the air. The train arrived at last and off stepped a giant of a man – just over six feet four inches tall, erect in posture, with a thatch of bushy hair, a large moustache, and dressed simply in a khaki suit and tie.
Cameras flashed and city officials pressed forward to present the man with the key to the city and to tell him how honored they were by his visit. He expressed polite thanks and then paused – seeming to see over their heads something that concerned him. Excusing himself, he walked quickly through the crowd to the side of an elderly black woman who was struggling to carry two large and heavy suitcases, completely ignored by the throngs all around her. Nodding to the woman, he picked up her suitcases in his big, strong hands and followed her on to the train, helping her into her seat and then stowing the suitcases in the luggage rack above her.
Meanwhile, the welcoming crowd had tagged along behind him, observing what had occurred before them with amazement and a curiously reverent hush. As the man re-exited the train he turned once again to the crowd of welcomers and said simply, “Sorry to have kept you waiting.”
The Nobel Peace Prize winner in this true story is, of course, the famous missionary doctor, Albert Schweitzer – a man who spent his life ministering to the poorest of the poor in Africa. One of the dignitaries who formed part of the official welcoming committee turned to a reporter from the Chicago Times and said, “That’s the first time I ever saw a walking sermon.”
Lent and Easter have once again come and gone, and the miraculous story of the Son of God who would willingly die for the sins of the world can easily fade from our conscious thought if we allow it to. But the Good News of the resurrection must continue to be shared – and shared again! The wise words of St. Francis of Assisi come to mind at this moment: “Preach the gospel at all times and, when necessary, use words.”
Let’s be walking sermons!
In Christ’s love, and mine,