Will Work for Food. Homeless. Please help. How many people drive by the man standing at the mall entrance, or the interstate traffic exchange, without acknowledging his existence? How many of us adjust the radio, play with our cell phone, look in the sun visor’s mirror, so that we don’t make eye contact? How many of us keep going without looking, or at the very least without seeing, the sign written in magic marker, “Unemployed with 3 Kids, Please Help”?
Why do we react by failing to act? Why do we respond to the expressed needs of the more unfortunate with no response at all? Do compassion, generosity, even exist anymore? Why do we not see more examples of these in our daily lives? Is it a sense of shame we feel? Is it because we don’t believe the hand written sign? Has the evening news run stories about these people saying that most of them are just scamming us? The truth is that some are just scamming us and they don’t really need the money they collect every day. But some do need the money and are really desperate for a bit of food and do really have wives and children at home who are hungry. What do we do when we are in situations like this?
When St. Dominic was studying to become a priest, the story is told of his great charity towards the less fortunate. It seems that when Dominic had given all that he had, and had run out of money, there were still those who needed his help. Rather than to not help those in need, our beloved saint sold his tunic and gave the money to a poor man. As it turns out, the ‘poor man’ used the money to visit a tavern and drink the money away. When made aware of what the man had done, and in response to his fellow seminarians who were taunting him on the loss of his tunic for no good reason, our father Dominic replied, “Better to have lost my tunic, than to have lost my charity.” So it should be with us.
During this season of Lent we should keep this in the back of our minds and remember that in this day and age there are hungry children, hungry parents and even hungry pets in our midst. During this season of Lent we need to keep this in the foremost of our actions. We don’t have to contribute large amounts of money to make a difference in someone’s life. The loose change in the cup holder of your car could make a huge difference in someone’s life. You could buy an extra loaf of bread and a package of bologna while you are shopping for groceries and give it to the guy standing in front of the shopping center with the sign. Most of us can afford this from time to time. Most of us have no excuse for NOT affording this from time to time.
Luke 6:38 says: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
This doesn’t mean that if you give a loaf of bread and a package of bologna you will get the same back, but it does mean that if we are generous with our money, our time, our love and ourselves the Lord will reward us with peace and joy in our hearts.
Proverbs 21:13 states, “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.”
This verse does not need any explanation and tells us that the Lord expects us to share what we have with others and if we don’t we should not expect to receive blessing. During this Lenten season we should be more aware of the less fortunate and needy. Take a few minutes and look around you, at work, at school, wherever you are. There are people in need and the smallest of donations to these people can better their lives just a little and make their lives more comfortable. By doing so, our actions would serve as reminder to them that God is still watching over them and hasn’t forgotten them.
But, do we have the time to do that which we are called to do? Is this why we often fail to act?
Is it because we are so busy? Sometimes in our lives today we tend to overlook the people who are less fortunate than we are, not because we don’t care and not because we feel we are better than those in need, but we overlook them because we have too many things going on in our lives. If there were a couple more hours added to every day we would probably still be too busy to notice those in need.
If we can just make an effort to slow down and notice those around us on a daily basis, we are sure to find people and families in need of a little help. This Lent keep in mind that the world is full of souls who are in need one way or the other. Remember that Jesus gave everything for us; couldn’t we give a little of ourselves and a little of what we have been blessed with, to our fellow man.