The Loudmouth Protestant

September 13, 2008

The Least of These (Redux)

Filed under: life — nickisym @ 11:33 pm
Tags: , ,

This evening I was serving with the Coalition for the Homeless, an organization I periodically do community service with. The Coalition delivers food to homeless people through New York City by way of a van that transports 3-4 volunteers and loads of food to distribute to the low-income and homeless clients. Each stop provides a different perspective of what homelessness and low-income looks like in a city that is buffeted with the rich and powerful. In Chinatown, the men and women stand in two separate lines and because of cultural traditions, the men are served first and the women get their food afterwards. At the Bowery, homeless people pour out of the shelter hoping to get food to tide them over for the rest of the night. And the night goes on like this for about three hours. One gets to encounter the true face of poverty and, if you will, the least of these.

Since coming to New York, I have realized that one of my heart’s burdens is for homelessness and poverty. It’s seldom that I can walk past a homeless person without feeling a real tug in my heart and thinking about Jesus’ words of “what you do to the least of these, you do to me.” Living in this city, I am confronted by the homeless at least once a day whether it be by way of the subway system, the panhandlers outside of my office, the people who come into restaurants asking for handouts or just those sets who stand at the same place day after day hoping someone will have mercy on them. 

So this evening as I put my heart in the right place and my hands to the plow, a homeless man said something rather interesting. As I and my volunteer colleagues waited for people to come to the van to get their food, he mentioned the fact that what we do is just like a job and that we are lucky to be able to go home after it, soak in the bathtub, turn on the TV and forget everything we just saw. I was dumbfounded when he said this and struck with incredible sadness because I knew what he wanted to say is, “I wish I had the same great fortune.” I was silent for a while and thought about that man’s words and the implications thereof.

I honestly don’t even know where I want to go with this post, but if I go nowhere else I have to just stress the importance of counting your blessings day in and day out because we all aren’t too far from losing it all. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say that it’s so important to make service to others a big part of your life. If you are in New York–as in a resident of–check out New York Cares for some amazing community service opportunities.

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