At church this morning, a new baby was baptized. I couldn't help myself: tears of joy spilled down my face. She's not my baby. Not even the baby of my family or a close friend. Just a new baby welcomed as a member of the human community.
Babies are such a blessing! A great reminder that we are loved, simply for existing. Babies can do nothing for themselves and yet most of us instinctively accept the responsibility of raising them until they can.
We want to give back what we got.
We all started out this small, this vulnerable. Think about it: the biggest jerk you've ever met was once a baby. Hitler, Stalin, Jeffrey Dahmer were all once innocent little babies who needed from their caretakers the same thing you and I once needed. Warm arms. Warm milk. Forgiveness and fierce protection.
Who can say with certainty what happens along the way as a pure new soul evolves into a psychopath? Not me. I explain to my seven-year-old that murderers she hears about in the news have an illness in the part of their brain that knows what's right and what's wrong. I don't know why they have an illness in their brain. I don't know how it got there. There from the day it was two-cells old or caught later in life like a bad cold? Thems the breaks, Kid.
It could just be how their brain was programmed. But who was the programmer? God or their genetic code? Does it have to be either or? Is it possible it could be and?
Regardless, there are way more of us in the world than there are Jeffrey Dahmers. Most babies who join the human community enrich it. And those who don't give the enrichers the opportunity to unite and support each other against them. Or for them. Wait, what?
This is what Jesus wants us to do, or, rather, what his biographers want us to do. Either way, it summons the warm fuzzies like watching a new baby baptism.
"...He makes his sun rise on both evil and good people, and he lets rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:45 (International Standard Version)
"...love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind even to ungrateful and evil people." Luke 6:35 (International Standard Version)
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)