I started really reading Matthew 25, and the rest of the gospels again, and crazily, they've invaded my well constructed life. I mean, what if Jesus really did mean everything He said? What if we really do have to follow all his teachings and not just the ones that make us feel comfortable?
As many of you know, they've started erecting the fence around Washington Park, with no thought to where all those people are supposed to go once the park is completely closed off. Do the mighty powers believe those folks are just going to disappear? We're already seeing the changes in the outcropping neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods are going to change, and the Church needs to be ready for it.
Shane Claiborne paraphrased Matthew 25 this way, "When we get to heaven, we will be separated into those sheep and goats Jesus talks about in Matthew25 based on how we cared for the least among us. I'm just not convinced that Jesus is going to say, 'When I was hungry, you gave a check to the United Way an they fed me.' Or 'When I was naked, you donated clothes to the Salvation Army and they clothed me.' Jesus is not seeking distant acts of charity. He seeks concrete acts of love: "YOU fed me... YOU visited me in prison... YOU welcomed me into your home... YOU clothed me."
Until you can put a face on poverty, you're heart can't be touched in the same way, nor can you see the Kingdom of God the way Christ intended for us to see it.
My friends and I have been privileged to become friends with a homeless couple. They have welcomed us, swapped stories and practical jokes, a meal, a small part of their lives. It's difficult to plan, because they have no phone, let alone electricity or water. But we make do. We suffer the bug bites and wonder how they manage it all.
Teresa has a 10th grade education and is working towards her GED. She has dreams, though not as often as she used to. But she gave me permission to share some of her poetry. I found this one quite striking. I hope it encourages you to find someone in need today, and to really listen to them. Because when it comes down to it, of all the needs they have, including necessities, what they really want is to know someone cares.
"I sit here in this kitchen with the overhead lights bright glare
I want so bad for someone to hear me,
but the words are never there.
I long for the things I want or need that it runs over the page
and I'm depressed and alone -
but someone's here - like a songbird in a cage.
I smoke my cigarettes and write my words,
-but why waste ink when they're never heard?
It's like the songbird when night time falls,
the cat will silence it with his claws.
Break the bread and drink the wine,
when daylight comes all will be fine.
The silence fills where the bird once sung,
and on the pirch, one feather hung.
I feel this way, more often than I should.
Try to hide my hurt bu putting on the hood.
They say they understand, but they're not me - what do they know?
So I keep my mouth shut, emotions and tears do show.
I do this so often, it makes me feel strange,
Like a silenced bird - the songbird in the cage."
~Teresa, Cincinnati homeless with a voice that deserves to be heard
Take the time to listen to someone today.