Nijmegen, 22 februari 2009.

Matthew 9: 35 - 38.

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

My dearest brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
I am so glad that I am in the midst of this congregation today, especially that an opportunity knocks once again to meet Rev. Peter van Bruggen, a dear friend who had his mission in Nias and who is presently having his mission in this congregation. And for today’s reflection, allow me to share it to you based from the BNKP-Nias setting (Agenda/Perikop).

Brothers and sisters,
Plato, a Greek philosopher, had categorized groups of human into three:
1. manusia serba OTAK (GREAT THINKERS),
2. manusia serba PERASAAN (GREAT FEELERS),
3. and manusia serba PERUT (GREAT EATERS).
The last category focused on the needs and pleasures that could satisfy an individual such as eating, sleeping, having fun and enjoyment (hedonism), etc. These were the classifications of mankind thousand years ago.

In this modern era in which economic system is dominated mostly by capitalist, human beings are often divided in associated with FOODS.
Foods defined in this sense are enlisted into four types:

1. “THE EMPTY-HANDED EATERS” (Manusia Apa makan).
Human beings who fall in this category frequently struggle and ask: What he ought to eat in this time of poverty and isolation? Majority of the world’s populace falls into this type. They are the ones who reside at below-poverty line.

2. “THE WHAT EATERS” (Manusia makan apa).
These are human beings who always ask the KIND of food to eat once they’re about to have it. The individuals in this type don’t find a hard time seeking for food to eat but they’re those who consider the varieties of food to eat before having them. Only few people fall in this type. Perhaps, they are into middle class societies.

3. “THE WHERE EATERS” (Manusia makan dimana).
The type of human beings who aren’t only choosing the type of food listed in the menu but moreover, they are frequently considering the place to have their meals.

4. “THE WITH WHOM EATERS” (Manusia makan siapa).
People of this type don’t only think about the varieties of food to eat, nor the place to have a meal but these are the people described as roaring lions looking for someone to devour.

Based from the above-given categories, the ones who suffer the most are those who fall into the first type, the “empty-handed eaters”.
These are the people who are the poorest, the most deprived, the most unprivileged, and the most impoverished.
In Indonesia, there is a term quoted as “sampah masyarakat” or in a way, described as “useless mankind”, the left-behind ones in the society.
They are the nameless and oftentimes become the subject for those who are situated in the fourth type or who we mentioned as “with whom eaters”.
The United Nation research shows that 25 000 individuals dying from hunger are those people who are under this type.

My dearest brothers and sisters,
At the time of Jesus, societies that were indigent and regarded as immoral or faithless – were claimed as those were fruitless and ”shelterless”.
Mankinds who were weak, poorest, oppressed and forgotten.
The Pharisees looked at them as useless people and who were not in need of anything and who should be secluded if needed.

But as we look at it, despite of every weep and every weakness of them, there is still someone who cares and who responds by an unconditional love, wherein we can include as the fifth type – this is ”THE FOOD GIVER”, the source of life.
He is in every part of the towns and the cities spreading the Kingdom of Heaven’s News as well as healing all the diseases and tiresomeness. He is Jesus.

He is the comfort of those who are forlorn and despair. He cares for those who are suffering, for those who are despondent, for those who are left-behind and sick and even for those who are quoted as ”sampah masyarakat” or the waste of the society for they are useless creatures. He is the bread and water of life.

Brothers and sisters, everyone of us has his own burdens.
Perhaps, when we look at the economic aspect, others might fall into type 1, or maybe 2, 3 or 4, but it should not be an excuse to stop struggling to live.
Perhaps, one’s difficulty is on his job. Others might be struggling to individualistic problems amidst this social growth.
There are also unnoticeable conflicts in the issues about human rights, children, economy, unpredictable weather change (global warming in particular), social relationships and the likes. In short, no one is exempted in the what we called ”life’s problem”.

Amidst these burdens, struggles and weariness, once there is no one to help, once we lose hope, Jesus comes amidst us and walks silently by His unselfish love.
He comes to carry our burdens. The statement ”walking by passion and selfish love” has an equivalent word in Greek which is ”splagchnizomai”.
This word was also used in describing the text from Luke 7 which was about the woman from Na’in who lost her son. Jesus worked by showing His compassion to this woman when He said, ”JANGAN MENANGIS” or ”DON’T WEEP”, then He rose this man up from his death.
In this text, the word splagchnizomai is used in spreading His love, sympathy and help to those who are grieving, suffering and burdened-up.
God’s Words reminds us that there is someone who cares, consoles and befriends you and me or us... He is JESUS. This is a very good news for all of us!!!
Emmanuel, He is upon us!
Based from Stoa philosophy, our God is far from us and shows apathy towards us, doesn’t care and doesn’t feel something for us. But in our text, Jesus is present everywhere, and He is moving by His unselfish love. According to Calvanist teaching, God is a god who is working the most to save us. He is proclaiming the IRRESISTIBLE GRACE.

This ”splagchnizomai” which is described as God’s compassion is really needed by every human being in this world. This text also teaches us to follow the deeds of Jesus Christ and that is to show compassion, solidarity and attention to those who are desperate and burdened-up with heavy loads.

Now, we are called to spread and show love/compassion and/or solidarity to our brothers and sisters who are presently experiencing discrimination, disapproval and injustices in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Middle East, Palestine, Israel, Congo and in other places.
We are called to disseminate solidarity to our brothers and sisters worldwide specifically tho those who are suffering from natural disasters.
We are called to spread compassion/solidarity to all migrant workers in the Netherlands, to all HIV-AIDS victims, to all the victims of greediness and the likes.

Enjoy following God’s deeds in spreading His compassion to all people in all parts of the world.