Friday, January 23, 2009

Who Do You See?

"When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and come to you?" (Matt. 25:37)



The reality is we see Christ every day. The omnipotent, self-existent, eternal Creator of all took on our human flesh with all of its fallen limitations and needs. God entered the death imprisoned world as a hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless infant. Like all of us He needed food, drink, clothing and shelter even as an adult, even as God.

The homeless are an icon of the fallen nature of our true humanity and the dependence we have on others for even our basic human needs. The homeless in reality are a mirror for our own wandering, our own hunger and thirst for something beyond ourselves, our own prisons, our own shame and nakedness that makes us hide behind our masks and avoid love and communion. We avoid eye contact with the person holding the sign because his face is our mirror, if we look into it we might be convicted of who we really are: lonely, afraid, beaten, compassionless, merciless, unforgiving, judgmental, angry, respecter of persons, proud, stingy and ungrateful.

But the homeless person IS the sign. He is the sign of the Kingdom come upon you and he will be with us always because we always need to be pointed toward the Kingdom. Will you turn away. Will you obey the sign and walk the path toward it?

(Thanks to Allan Boyd for the image from his blog on ministry to the marginalized and hopeless: The Living End please check it out.)

5 comments:

-C said...

Powerful.

Thanks, Steve.

Anonymous said...

St Mother Maria Skobtsova: Saint of the Open Door.
http://incommunion.org/?p=79

V and E said...

Beautiful.

I really appreciate this.

- V.

DvntWriter said...

A question Sub-Deacon.

My approach to "feeding, clothing, giving drink, etc." to Christ/homeless when I see them, is to give my money or what I have to give to them directly. I see someone down the sidewalk I am traveling on, I get my wallet out.

Both a former and current priest of mine have discouraged this, as have friends and others. Their point is, this person may use this money not to "help" themselves, but to help an addiction. They say it is better to give the money or assistance to a group that serves the disenfranchised community (eg. shelters, rehabs, food and clothing centers, etc.) because they have the resources to help.

I have always argued that, so what if they use the money for alcohol or drugs or whatever? It is not my place to judge what they do with it, it is only my place to give freely and without reservation.

Still, I meet resistance with others who think I am not helping, but rather enabling.

What think you?

PS: A lovely reminder your post. Thank you.

s-p said...

This is a great question and one that is tough. I also just give money to whoever asks. When someone tells me "Oh they'll just use it for booze...etc.", I say, "OH, you know the guy? Cool... what's his name, how did you meet him, can you tell me more about his issues so I can be more helpful?" I cannot play God with people's lives, I do not sit in judgment on their decisions about what to do with a small blessing I've bestowed on them, even if they lied to get it from me and I knew it was a lie. I always just say "God bless you" when I hand something over, so they know it came from a pure heart... well, as pure as mine is.... Anyway, "giving" is not about economics and getting a bigger or more effective bang for your buck, or judgment about who is worthy and will get the most from your gift, it is about grace and mercy. Jesus NEVER preinterviewed anyone He healed about what they planned on doing with their gift, He responded to the request. God is the biggest enabler in the universe...just ask all those "spiritual" people what they've done with God's blessings on them. If they say, "I'm not like other men, I don't drink, I don't....etc." you know what they're about (today IS the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, after all). So, I'm on the same page as you are, and people don't agree with me either.