“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”–John 4:11
I began my walk with Jesus in 1996 and in 1997 I found myself doing a four-year minister apprenticeship at the Maryland State Penitentiary in Baltimore, Maryland. From all of my many experiences working in various prisons I discovered that there is a greater and much deeper need for agape love among the prison population. These are men who have been shunned and abandoned by their family and society as a whole. Working in a prison environment a preacher, minister, must dig deeper and give so much more of themselves because the pain of many of these men is an inexplicable pain and hopelessness that cannot be weighed.
Sisters and Brothers in Christ, peace and blessings to you all. Today, is the Sabbath Day and I feel blessed beyond measure this afternoon and my hope is that each of you feel blessed too. God loves us!
The Good Samaritan is my favorite story of the Bible because it can apply to the here and now, somewhere there is a man or woman walking in the light of Christ. Today, I would like to tell the true story of such a man; his name is Julio Dias, a special man of God. His profession was that of social worker and one cold winter evening as he was walking to his favorite eatery in New York City a young man walked up to him with a knife and demanded that Mr. Dias turn over his wallet and money. It was a bitterly cold evening and without objection or rancor Julio Dias gave the teenager his wallet and all the cash he had on him. The young mugger walked away counting the money from his victim’s wallet when he heard Julio Dias call out to him. The young mugger was taken aback, he turned around and walked back to the man he had just robbed. Julio Dias took off his winter coat and he gave it to the teenager. The young man was in a state of total disbelief and once he composed himself he asked:
“Why would you offer me your coat after I just robbed you?”
Mr. Dias replied:
“If you are willing to risk your life for a few dollars, I guess you really need the money and I see you don’t even have a winter coat. At least you can be warm.”
The boy smiled.
A serious conversation began between the boy and Mr. Dias and soon respect and human decency took hold of the young teenager. Julio Dias asked the boy if he was hungry and invited the boy to come have dinner with him. The boy accepted the invitation.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” –John 4:11
Julio Dias and the boy talked and laughed over dinner and it turned into a wonderful supper on a cold winter night. Soon a waiter came to the table and he gave the bill to Mr. Julio Dias; Mr. Dias began to laugh. The boy was befuddled. Julio Dias had to remind the boy he had no money to pay for the dinner. The boy quickly gave back Mr. Dias wallet with all the money he had stolen. Mr. Dias became serious and he searched the innocent eyes of this 14-year old boy and then he spoke to the boy with a warm and loving tone.
“Here’s twenty dollars, but you have to give me that knife. You are so much better than this and I’m going to help you. Your life is better than trying to rob someone.”
The boy gave Mr. Dias the knife and there was born a friendship; the boy and Mr. Dias left the restaurant together in peace and respect for each other. The good work displayed here by Julio Dias is the light and work that Jesus tells us we should walk in.
In closing, we can all be points of light and grace when we lean into each other with the love of Christ.