Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 26, 2007
Homeless in our midst should lead us to act
Fear can prevent us from reaching out to those in need
Me and My Church
By KIM HALDANE
I used to take the bus to work.
Every morning there was a man, obviously homeless, who would ride the bus so he could catch some shut eye before facing the world for the day.
Most people tried to avoid sitting next to him because he smelled of body odour and urine, the others pretended not to see him.
For a half hour every day, my commute, I would watch as this man slept. Sometimes, I would drink my coffee from my $25 Starbucks' mug. Other times, I would eat a bagel from Timmies, and other times I would read a book about tragedies in far off places. I never took the time to help this man, though, because I was afraid.
As Christians we are called to see Jesus or godliness in everyone. I remember from catechism learning that Jesus is everywhere and is in everyone.
But if we take that Sunday school teaching to its full extent, does that mean we have to help everyone? Does that mean that we have to be kind all the time? Even on our commute?
Looking back, I should have offered to help this man, I should have made an extra mug of coffee, I should have bought two bagels from Timmies, and I should have taken care of the human tragedy on my bus instead of reading about ones in far off places. I should have, I should have . . .
I think a lot of times that we are paralyzed by fear. I know I was afraid of helping him because I didn't want to be seen talking to him.
I didn't want him to expect that I would take care of him forever. I thought if I helped him, he would never learn to help himself. I was terrified of him.
It sounds ridiculous and pathetic to say, I was terrified of a man who couldn't help himself. I was afraid of a man who hadn't showered in days, who probably had nowhere to sleep, or anyone to give him food. This man had no one.
Except for the dozens of people who took the 7:30 a.m. bus, would anyone have noticed if he had disappeared? Did we notice when he stopped taking the 7:30 a.m. bus?
You often hear of courageous people helping those who suffer. Groups that prepare meals, find shelter and give counselling to the people who you and I are afraid of. Prostitutes, drug dealers, crack heads, and mentally ill -- why are we afraid of them?
Often, we are in healthy relationships, can buy the medicine we need, and have friends and family who support us when we are down. These people do not have this kind of life or support, yet we are afraid of them. It doesn't make any sense.
We can't use charities as our excuse for not doing anything. We can't think that if you give your money to a charity, your job ends there.
If we start to take care of the human tragedies we see, instead of expecting someone else to do it, we would feel a sense of empowerment, a sense that we are honouring our role as an ambassador for Christ and that sometimes a cup of hot coffee and some kind words can be worth a lot.
When we see human tragedy in front of us we have to seek to fix it. We have to be brave and accept that the person asking us for a few coins, a sandwich or your mittens has Jesus in him or her.
We need to stop fearing people who need our help and finally listen to our Sunday school teachers who told us that Jesus is in everyone and that he is everywhere.
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