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Who is the modern day Jean Valjean ?

How would I react to the modern day Jean Valjean?

You know the classic scene in Les Miserables - the pathetic Valjean going from door to door in the freezing cold night looking for shelter and being turned away finally to find his sanctuary at the Bishop's church. The Bishop welcomes Valjean as a guest, loving him and showing him hospitality under his roof only to find Valjean returned the next day apprehended by the guard clutching a bag of the Bishop's valuables.

The bishop shows uncommon mercy and gives Valjean his precious candlesticks telling the guard to release their prisoner. This moment is the crux of Valjean's transformation from pathetic and desperate to a shining beacon of hope and hospitality. All because of Christ like act of mercy.

John Perkins says, "You don't give someone else their dignity. You can merely affirm it." Valjean's dignity always existed in his humanity. The bishop merely affirmed Valjean's dignity when he opened his door and honored Valjean with his hospitality under his roof. This is one of the most powerful and redemptive stories of our time. It shakes us to the core.

This begs the question, who is the modern day Jean Valjean?

Can I find the same mercy within my heart as the bishop showed ? In our society today we are locking our doors, arming our homes, setting our alarms and turning on the news to learn of the mass acts of foreign and domestic terror. We are calling to increase our ranks of inspector Javerts.

As a parent how do I raise my children to show uncommon hospitality and mercy to the modern day Jon Valjean? To the immigrant. To the undeserving. To the addict. To the person who makes me extremely uncomfortable and want to shield and protect my children from even realizing the person's  existence.

There is very real danger and acts of hatred in the world. It is my job as a mother to protect my children to the best of my ability. However, fear of our modern day Valjeans can also be dangerous. A world without mercy and redemption is a world where fear and self protection rule.

I don't know the answer of how I will model and teach my children the mercy the bishop showed. I don't know if I have the ability to show hospitality and mercy in my heart like the bishop did.

If I met my Jean Valjean tomorrow would I turn him away?

My hope and prayer is I will know how to be merciful, affirm their dignity and teach my children the wisdom of these things along with a sobering need for security.


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