A fellow tells this story from his college days:
“During my second month of school, our professor gave us a pop quiz.
“I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: ‘What is the name of the woman who cleans the school?’
“Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name?
“I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
“ ‘Absolutely,’ said the professor. ‘In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.’
“I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”
Those who have a hard time remembering names, especially as age takes its toll on our gray matter, need not necessarily crawl under the couch at this story. At least they knew people’s names in the first place before they could forget them.
But the old college story does sting the conscience for all the times we were interested only in people who could help us climb some ladder in life, or who could help us in some way down the road, or who make us feel important.
It is a remarkable thing that when the Son of God set foot among us, He noticed the nobodies and the ne’er-do-wells: a woman with a checkered past at Jacob’s well, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, a women with a sensitive health issue who reached out from the crowd to touch His robe.
He who called the highly educated Paul into His service also called common fishermen to be His apostles.
Those who know Christ by faith will catch something of His spirit toward “the least of these brothers of Mine,” as He put it (Matthew 25:40). They will understand why James measures “real religion” by a barometer as common as our faith-born concern for widows and orphans.
Christ knows their names as well as He knows ours.