Faith and Spirituality

Active Love

Active love or act of love? One and the same or two different meanings?

I can see the same thing over and over again and not fully recognize the fullness of it until God opens my heart to really see it.

Such was the case when I was driving in the Denver area a couple of weeks ago.  The exit I had turned onto had the same man standing at the busy corner, holding the same sign.  And I caught myself doing the same thing I always do when I reach that intersection–or any intersection that temporarily houses the homeless.  I looked the other way, not wanting to see what spoke loudly.  Someone that needed my help.

English: A homeless man in Paris Français : Un...
English: A homeless man in Paris Français : Un sans domicile fixe à Paris. Tiếng Việt: Một người đàn ông vô gia cư ở Paris Polski: Bezdomny mężczyzna w Paryżu See below for more translations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It reminded me of when I was a child in school and the teacher was looking to call on someone for an answer to a question she had just asked.  An answer I did not have.  I would squirm in my seat and look down at my desk, maybe pretend to be writing something, hoping  she wouldn’t see me.  If I didn’t look at her, then she couldn’t see me.  Sounds silly, I know.  But when I find myself in an uncomfortable place, my desire to get out of it often knows no bounds. How many times I had seen this same scenario before, at this exact corner, and it hadn’t called for my attention.  At least not so loudly as it was doing now.  Yet, I continued the game of “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me,” through the two light cycles it took for me to safely pass out of sight.  And when I couldn’t see him, I falsely assumed he would be out of my mind.On my way home from Denver that day, my heart and mind felt discontented, but I couldn’t quite place why.  All I had done was run a few errands, getting things done that needed to be done.  So while I should have felt a sense of accomplishment, I felt heavily burdened.

And then the source of the heaviness came before me with a wave of guilt and shame.  God had spoken to me through the homeless man on the corner.  The one I couldn’t get away from fast enough.  While he was calling me to help someone less fortunate than I was, I listened by turning my eyes and heart away from Him.  God, who has given me all I have and blessed me far beyond what I deserve, was asking me to help someone, and I denied His request.

I thought about Matthew 25:37-40, which states:

‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (NKJV)

The Sermon of Jesus on the mount. Fresco by Fr...
The Sermon of Jesus on the mount. Fresco by Franz Xaver Kirchebner in the Parish church of St. Ulrich in Gröden-Ortisei build in the late 18th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had turned my back on my God and the opportunity he was giving me to serve Him by being kind and compassionate to ‘the least of these.’And the million dollar question I have heard raised by so many people and have asked myself many times before–if we give them money, will they spend it on alcohol?  Am I enabling his alcoholism by contributing to his need?I don’t know.  And I truly don’t believe that that’s for me to decide, nor is it within my control.   What I do know, however,  is that it is my responsibility, and my joy,  to do what God calls me to do.  To keep my heart open to Him and obey when He calls me to serve Him, however that may look.  The rest is up to God.  It may have been in His plan to change that man’s life with the offering I decided not to give.

I believe that giving benefits the giver every bit as much as the one being given to.  Next time, I pray I will listen, obey, and leave the rest to God.  He is in control.

Grace to you.

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