If I recall correctly, I recently mentioned the fact that my church hosts a group of homeless men in the CARITAS program one week a year, and I help out with other members of my Sunday School class one night during that time. We get their evening meal ready and pack bag lunches for them to take wherever they go the next day. Some of our class members are more outgoing in talking to the men–there are usually about forty of them–and I actually sat down with one of them this year for what turned out to be an extended conversation.
CARITAS is a worthy program and our participation isn’t very challenging. Even though I never look forward to it each year, I’m always glad I helped out.
That’s not what I feel hypocritical about, though.
Just off of Rt. 1 at the entrance to our local Martins Grocery Store, I frequently see a tanned, trim, bearded fellow sitting on the median strip where people exiting at the light can’t miss seeing him. Especially if they’re stopped for a red light.
He always brings a chair or a stool–one very hot day recently he was shading himself beneath an umbrella–and water. Oh, and he has a sign. As you can see from the picture above, it says, “Spare change. Anything will help” and “God bless.” It does NOT say, “Will work for food.”
I’m jealous of Jesus, especially regarding this man. He knows people’s hearts. He knows this guy’s circumstances and whether offering him even the smallest of contributions would be good or foolish.
Yes, Jesus knows and I sure don’t. I’ve always been skeptical of beggars. And knowing that the men of CARITAS are genuinely homeless and that many of them actually have jobs but just not a place to live doesn’t help me feel any better about this guy.
The Bible talks about helping widows and orphans. This man doesn’t qualify. And Jesus said the poor will always be with us. But what do I do about this fellow?
I don’t dislike him. I would probably feel very sorry for him if I could determine the truth about his situation and if it demonstrated genuine need.
Am I a hypocrite for willingly helping with CARITAS but ignoring this man? I honestly don’t know.
I almost wish I could conveniently park and stop and talk to him. It’s not as if I’m afraid of him. But so far the best I’ve managed was to smile and wave at him once. Maybe twice. If I had an unopened bottle of water in the car, I’d probably offer it to him. But that’s the extent of what I’d do.
WWJD? What would Jesus do? I can only shake my head. He’d know the best thing to do. The right thing. He was never hypocritical about anything. And He never ignored people’s needs. Their real needs.
What would you do? How about leaving a comment?
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