What words are used to discribe you? And what are the words you use to discribe others?
On a quest to greet strangers with kindness, your words matter. Not just the ones you say but also the ones you think. It is the words in our heart that are used to judge others wrongly. For example, you see a dissheveled man wearing ragged clothes, pushing a shopping cart filled to the brim with what looks like bags of garbage. He is waving his arms wildly while screaming up to the sky. What is the first words that cross your mind? Crazy? Homeless? Stay away? While these are natural reactions, it does not get to solving or even ending the problem. If your first reaction is "God, I lift this man up to your care" the problem still persist in that you are separating yourself from the problem and passing on the work to God to solve it for you. But God has called us to the work. Jesus told his disciples that "Not everyone who calls out to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven." But the ones who listen to his words and do the work will be like the smart man who built his house on a solid rock.
If you saw this man on the street and the first word to come out of your heart was "Jesus," then your heart is in the right place; built on a solid foundation.
I say this for many reasons. The first is you acknowledged that this man has a name. The second is this man could be anyone, including the beloved Son of God. Third, who is to say that he is crazy simply because he is talking to the wind and the birds. The great St. Francis of Assisi would preach to the birds in the trees and the animals in the forest.
I once saw a comedian talk about this very scenario. After a great delivered set up he dropped the punch line that this man could be a great prophet being called by God to deliver a prophecy upon the people. The Bible can attest that such prophecies are often ignored and the prophets often marginalized and pushed to the fringe of society.
Whether or not the man in my story was homeless or not, he has a name. He has a mother and a father, and maybe even siblings, aunts and uncles. Maybe a high school sweetheart who sifts through Facebook looking to reconnect with him. In short, he is a human just like us. Until we can begin to see him as such we will not be able to commit ourselves to doing the work we are called to do. That is to say, love our neighbors as ourself. In Matthews Gospel Jesus said, "I tell you solemnly, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do to me." That is the word directly from the Word.