얼마 전 목요성경공부시간에 탕자의 비유(누가복음 15:11-32)에 대해 배우고난 후 전도사님이 내리신 정리와 던지신 질문이 마음에 남아있었습니다. 여기에 나오는 큰 아들은 바리새인들이고 둘째 아들은 이 설교를 들으려 모였던 죄인들과 세리들을 상징합니다. 이 비유를 오늘날에 맞춘다면 큰 아들은 교회에 열심히 다니는 우리들이고 둘째 아들은 우리와는 삶의 배경이 많이 다른 그런 사람이 어느 날 교회에 나타났다고 보면 되겠지요. 여러분들은 이 사람을 이 비유에 나온 아버지와 같이 잔치를 베풀며 반길 준비가 되어있습니까? 어느 교회에서 있었던 일화를 소개합니다. 갱단에 속해서 마약중독과 갖가지 사고뭉치인 자식을 둔 어느 가족이 교회에 나왔습니다. 고등부에 아들을 보내고 부모들은 어른예배에 참석했지요. 그런데 예배 후에 일이 났습니다. 그 아이에 대해서 다른 부모들이 알게 되었고 너도 나도 그 아이가 이 교회에 나오면 우리 아이는 이 교회에 못 내보내겠다는 것이었습니다. 과연 우리는 이런 경우 어떠한 반응을 보일까요? 이 부모들 같이 내 놓고 반대는 안할지 모르지만 그저 환영하는 척하지나 않을까요? 우리 아이들한테는 절대로 그 아이와 어울리지 말라고 주의주면서 말입니다. 아니면 진정으로 그들을 반기고 그 아들의 삶의 전환을 위하여 주님께 기도하며 실질적인 도움을 베푸는 선한 친구가 될까요? 우리들은 너무 우리끼리만 모여서 좋아하는 것은 아닐까요?
요사이 internet을 통하여 많이 읽혀지고 있는 짤막한 다음 글에서 배려와 실질적인 도움에 대해 다시 한번 생각하게 되어 여기에 소개합니다.
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: “When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?”
The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. “I believe, that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.”
Then he told the following story:
Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, “Do you think they’ll let me play?” Shay’s father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.
Shay’s father approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, “We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.”
Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. His Father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father’s joy at his son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.
At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.
However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.
The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, “Shay, run to first! Run to first!” Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second!” Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball … the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.
All were screaming, “Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay”
Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, “Run to third! Shay, run to third!”
As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, “Shay, run home! Run home!” Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.
“That day”, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world”.
Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!