Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. (Luke 2:25-26)
In my hometown, when I was growing up, you could stop any day of the week at the bench near the music pavilion in McCulloch Park and be greeted by a round, jolly man everyone called Daddy Mack. Daddy Mack had been injured in World War II and was “on the disability,” which allowed him to spend his days chatting and philosophizing in the park. Every time I hear the story of Simeon, Daddy Mack comes to mind.
One of his favorite sayings was, “they is Jesus people, and they is selfish people; I’m gonna be a Jesus people.” He would elaborate: “Folks think like Jesus, talk like Jesus, act like Jesus, and love like Jesus – they make the world a good place. Selfish people take and take and take and think the world owes them – they make the world the place we got.”
“I’m here on earth a short time. I’m gonna spend it two ways: being like Jesus and looking for Jesus, ‘cause when Jesus meets Jesus, man does that make God happy!” Granted, there is little nuance in Daddy Mack’s philosophy, but there is a simple elegance. It is the elegance that Paul and Jesus speak of repeatedly throughout our Christian scriptures. Do good, reject the bad. Give, share, love, inspire. Stop demanding your own way. See the needs of others greater than your own and stop fixating on the entitlements you think others unfairly receive. Take care of others. Looking for a purpose in life? Like Simeon, like Daddy Mack, look for the Messiah in each and every person you meet, and rejoice each time you discover God’s Spirit alive and well and working for the transformation of the world.
I have been so inspired in big and small ways by the healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, firefighters and police officers, chaplains, nursing home and assisted living staffs who sacrificially and unselfishly have put their health and lives on the line during the pandemic. I am also deeply proud of the pastors and laity who have unselfishly made the painful decisions not to gather in person because they care so much for the health and well-being of others. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” is a sweet sentiment that almost everyone will endorse, but it is deeply inspirational when it is actually lived out.
We are faced hundreds of times each day with the challenge and opportunity to choose to be “Jesus people” or “selfish people.” I hope I can honor Daddy Mack (and Simeon) by choosing Jesus a little more each day. I still have a long way to go, and selfishness is always creeping in, but I keep looking for the Messiah in others wherever I go.
Glorious God, open my eyes that I might see your Spirit, your Christ-likeness, your blessed and beloved creation, in every person I meet. I find it too easy to find fault or take offense. Rescue me from my own selfishness and help me to love others as you love us. Amen.