Yesterday, I came out of a meeting in one of the less glossy areas of Chicago and headed to my car. I saw an older, dignified-looking man first check a parking meter for change and, when that failed to produce any results, he started gleaning for food on the ground.
I watched in growing horror as he’d pick up some scrap, look at it and occasionally try to put it in his mouth. Last of the big spenders, I went over and gave him all the cash I had – $7. I was/am ashamed that I didn’t have more to give him, that I didn’t at least offer to buy him a meal (I was late for my next appointment…)
The other day, I was on decidedly ritzy Michigan Ave and there must have been five or six panhandlers on each block I walked. One man simply stood at a corner shouting, “Please help me! Somebody, please help me!” I will not forget that voice or those words anytime soon.
I know I’ve written about this before, but I find it hard to believe that we who live in the wealthiest society in the world have so many destitute people in our midst.
On this Election Day, I can’t help reflecting on how little care for the poor and vulnerable has been a topic in our political discourse. What is wrong with us?
Having written this much, I went to the mailbox and found a book Hungry, and you fed me: Homilies and reflections for Cycle C, edited by Deacon Jim Knipper. In it, I read a beautiful piece by our own Fran which ends with these words:
In the Kingdom of God, no person is beyond repair, no person is to be thrown away. In the Kingdom of God, every person is to be welcomed, loved, cherished, and saved through Christ the Lord. In the Kingdom of God, there is no human trash – we are all treasure.
I want to scream at God, at myself and at anyone who will listen.