Published: Thursday, December 3, 2009 | 9:02 AM ET Canadian Press THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SHIRLEY, N.Y. – A convenience store owner who showed mercy to a would-be robber says he’s received an apology note and $50 in the mail.
The unsigned note said it was from the man who tried to rob Mohammad Sohail, who has a store on Long Island, near New York City. The note said the would-be robber has a new job, a new child, and is staying out of trouble.
Sohail told the newspaper Newsday that he is saving the $50 for charity.
The bat-wielding man tearfully told Sohail in May that he was trying to feed his family. The rifle-toting businessman gave him $40 and bread, and made him promise never to rob again.
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What a touching and heart-warming story … just the kind of good-news tale that people hunger to hear this time of year. Can you imagine the made-for-TV movie? Can you picture the Hallmark cards? Can you you hear the chorus of voices calling out: “This is what the spirit of the season is all about!”
And in a way, I think they are right … but NOT in the way they were thinking. This all too common scene (acted out hundreds of times each day in our country) playing out with a new and novel ending is very much like what the True Spirit of Christmas is all about … but it has nothing to do with touching gestures, or heart-warming notes.
It has more to do with the raw surveillance video of bats and guns and shouting and cursing, swearing, crying and pleading. Watch the video of two very real people, pushed to the edge by fear and circumstances. Two people who’s lives are very nearly out of control. Two ordinary people engaged in some very real, very ugly, life and death moments. There’s your Christmas Card for you.
For that’s what the first Christmas was like … that’s what it is all about. A world where ordinary people like you and me are pushed to the edge by fears and foreclosures. People battered and bewildered by our circumstances. People whose lives have been ruined by sin, spinning out of control. People facing death each step through this life. Into this world of pain and suffering, sin and selfishness, God sent His only begotten Son. A helpless baby to help those who cannot help themselves.
And how can a baby do all this? By growing into the man, the king, who would be betrayed, who would face the cruelest weapons of this world – hatred, envy, indifference, pride, arrogance. Weapons every one of us still wields in a vain attempt to provide for ourselves. So this baby grown into a king would stand at the mercy of Religious and Secular rulers yet receive none. Who would receive the blows of the rod, the cuts of the whip, piercing of the nails, and the thrust of the spear. No reprieve was given Him, no mercy shown to Him. There’s your Christmas Card for you!
But that’s the way it had to be. That is the gift that must be given if there is to be mercy for you and me. Christ must be shown no mercy, so that I may be shown His. That’s what Christmas is all about … mercy for us bunch of sinful thugs, a precious gift freely given to one and to all, for not one of us deserves it. Nor is it a gift given on condition. No strings are attached to this parcel. Even if we do not always appreciate it or look to it, it remains. Let this touching gesture … that God gave us His one and only Son to suffer and die and rise again for you, be your heart-warming note this season!