Tuesday, March 4, 2014
“A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.”
“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.” - Herman Melville
Gospel Text: (MK 10:28-31)
Peter began to say to Jesus,
“We have given up everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.
But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
There he was sitting with folded legs on the cold dirty icy cement sidewalk in front of the Catholic Church I was about to enter - sitting right next to the little tree where neighborhood animals urinate.
His presence there caught me by surprise and made me uncomfortable.
He had a thick white beard. He wore several layers of dirty clothing hoping I am sure to stave off the bitter cold. He just sat there staring at the concrete slab and passing feet that rushed past him. In the few moments I watched him, no one stopped. No one said anything to him. No one tried to help him. No one seemed to care.
Who was this man?
The cynics who passed him by probably felt he was an alcoholic or addicted bum looking for money to get drunk or high. No way would they be enablers by throwing a few coins his way. Others perhaps believed he was just a lazy man unwilling to work for food and thereby not deserving of their assistance. Maybe he was one of those professional "homeless" one sometimes reads about who actually rake in a nice chump of change. If he was, parking himself right in front of a Catholic Church was a stroke of marketing genius.
Or maybe, just maybe, he was legitimately and desperately in need, through no fault of his own, unable to feed himself or find safe shelter, ashamed to or unable to access programs that might be able to help him.
Whomever he was no one cared enough to stop.
But what if He was actually Jesus disguised as an unkempt and despairing beggar and nearly everyone passed Him by?
Our Lord meant it when He said: 'I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me as often as you neglected to do it to one of these least ones, you neglected to do it to me.'
This Lent let us remember that we should not pick and choose between those we feel worthy of our help. For if the one we neglect is the Jesus we profess to love, what could we possibly tell Him when He asks us why we did not stop and help?
Posted by Joe Reciniello at 5:52 AM