“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
“What time is mass tomorrow?” is a Saturday night ritualistic question. You see we attend a different Catholic Church almost every single week and so mass times change.
It’s been pretty smooth sailing for,this traveling church family of ours, and most churches have been incredibly outgoing in welcoming us. I mean, it’s not as though we can hide in a pew anywhere without causing a scene … even in a Catholic Church!
And, it’s hasn’t been difficult to find outreaches either as we scour the Church Bulletin for social justice activities that will be occurring while we are in the area.
Which brings me to where we are today. In absolutely one of our favorite places, Columbus, GA. The people, the whitewater, the adventure and yes even the church make us feel like we have come home each time we visit.
And no matter how beautiful, or how welcoming, or how adventurous Columbus is, or any city for that matter, there is an edge to it.
A section of the city that most would prefer to not be reminded of. And that is the homeless. Not the standing on the side of the road with signs, homeless. Nor the accost you as you walk into a store, homeless.
The truly needy sleeping on benches or in public bathrooms, everything they own on their back homeless.
Some are entirely too proud to take a handout from any of us. We’ve tried. I packaged about 10 lunchmeat sandwiches, carrots, chips and a drink and sent the kids out to hand them out. They came back with about 4.
But they are as happy to converse as anyone I’ve ever met. Coby, Elly, Emmy, Maddy and I were longboarding the riverwalk and stopped by the bathrooms because as you know, young kids pee TONS!
There happened to be a few homeless men sitting outside the bathrooms and they were cracking up watching Coby, 2.5 years old, longboarding! They couldn’t believe his speed and accuracy.
So we stopped and talked. We talked about their service to our country, our philosophies on parenting, the hydraulics of the river, books we have read, the situation in Syria and all the middle East. We talked about God and even more about how they thought it was just amazing to see kids smiling and playing.
They didn’t ask me for anything, even though I know, for a fact, they have nothing. At the end of the conversation, I asked them earnestly if they were ok, if they needed anything. One of them laughed and said, longboarding lessons from that kid, pointing at Coby.
I smiled and vowed to myself to go back with a book Dan’s brother had leant us and a learning Bible that had been given to Dan and I in the parking lot of a Walmart with strict instructions to share with someone else.
These guys may have had nothing, but they had everything they needed…showers and hot meals from the shelters in Columbus, fellowship, and God.
For many people wealth is their final destination. Success is the accumulation of stuff. I get it, I think we’d all be lying if we said we didn’t wish we sat on mass fortunes.
Of course, maybe you are like me and have a million charities you would donate to, a few choice politicians you would “buy” for a vote and/or the real estate you would buy up for the homeless and those that have nowhere to turn.
Today’s Gospel reading, Mark 10: 17-30 really got me thinking of the dichotomy between the poor and the rich.
Many people consider wealth to be a sign of divine favour. The likes of which Joel Osteen promises is just around the next turn, if you are faithful & patient.
But wealth, according to Jesus Christ, is a barrier to true love. He implores the rich man before Him to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Him. The man is devastated, he leaves Jesus and is very sad, for he is extremely rich and cannot part with either his money, possessions or his power.
Jesus Christ calls us all, not just the chosen few, to empty ourselves of our attachments in order to become the servant of others. He asks us to change our relationships with the people around us, to befriend them, to identify with them and to have a deep desire to help them.
And we don’t need to have a lot to do so, just a lot of heart, faith and love.
Challenge yourself and your children to not be annoyed and bothered by those who would beg either. It’s not our job to discern if their needs are genuine, it’s our calling to give freely.