“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10: 36-37
We are getting close to the end of the Year of Mercy that we have celebrated in the church this year. How have we done in learning to be more merciful? Where can we still grow in this area? One of the hard things for me to see is the growing number of homeless families in the city where we live. It a difficult problem, because many of the homeless need more than a home, they need help for mental illnesses. We are helping with a home in our area that is taking in eight families today, so that’s a start!
But what do we do when we see a person on the side of the road with a sign asking for help? Do we feel uncomfortable and look the other way? I have to admit that I do just that sometimes, because I’ve heard we shouldn’t give money to those who are on the street. The agencies that help the homeless suggest that it would be better to give them a meal, or at least a “goodie bag” filled with protein bars, soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, kleenex, shampoo, etc. It’s also nice to have smaller bags with doggie treats for those who have a dog.
Even if you don’t have food or money to give, you can give these people a smile. We can acknowledge them with a nod and smile and then say a prayer for them. At least you are noticing them. Many on the street feel invisible and forsaken because most ignore them and so many of us are uncomfortable looking at them when we don’t have anything to give.
Scripture reminds us, “Give to the one who asks you.” (Matthew 5:42) I plan on being prepared the next time someone asks me for help. I invite you to join me by making up some “goodie bags” to have in your car. Even if just one person does, that would be great! And if each of us notices and tries to help the “neighbor” we encounter in our own neighborhood, city or town – then one by one, we can make a difference in our world today. Let’s each do what we can to help those God puts in our path each day.
Janice Carleton and her husband Jim live in Portland, OR and partner with Passionist Fr. Cedric Pisegna in Fr. Cedric Ministries. She is the mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 6. Janice also leads women’s retreats and recently published her second book: God IS with Us. Visit Janice’s website at http://www.janicecarleton.com/ or email her at [email protected].