It is -2° this morning. As I walked along the Tiber I remembered another cold night with the chill wind blowing. We priests had finished dinner having spent a wonderful evening together, visiting at his residence one of our very own who had suffered a fall and was heroically hobbling along with crutches. While the others drove home, I stood in my clergyman waiting for the bus when a young girl stomped her way past me. She was scantily dressed. Her skirt had no length whatever, being made up of, if I may exaggerate, just about enough material needed to tailor a collar. Only the fire of passion could keep her warm. Her bulging and bouncing bust seemed to resent and resist the restrictions that held it in place, and appeared as if all set to break loose. She was endowed with abundant assets! Since the bus failed to arrive, and not wanting to hang out alone on that cold night, I decided to walk back home which was barely a couple of kilometres away.
I saw her walk ahead of me quite some distance away. I maintained that distance. She sauntered and searched for prospective clients. I could see a man negotiating with her but she spurned his offer, possibly because the price stipulated was too low. Then she melted into the darkness of the night. Her day had begun for she had started business in what has come to be accepted as one of the oldest trades in the world.
And as I walked home I pondered. I felt sad that so much beauty was being squandered and sold. I felt pained to know that a young and beautiful life was being frittered away in such a dehumanizing and debasing manner. I even felt like wanting to talk to her and rescue her from the way of life that she had adopted. But then what would people say if they saw me with a street-walker at night? And if I were spotted by some dicasterial official at that hour would that not be reason enough to have me summarily sacked? I made sure that I kept a 'safe distance' between her and me. So careful was I and cautious to protect and preserve my good name!
I wondered how Jesus would have handled the situation. He did not distance Himself from sinners but on the contrary went in search of them. At times He invited Himself over to their home. Was He not known to be the friend of sinners and street-walkers? And even when He died at Calvary, He was counted among criminals being crucified between two thieves! Jesus reveals to me the heart of God always ready to reach out to and redeem the lost! The Father's hands remain always extended in a gesture of embrace waiting for the return of the sinner because God never takes back either His promises or His love. And by welcoming them home He turns their darkness to light and their night into day!