Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and homeless and do not turn your back on suffering. These are some of the words from scripture today that can give us suggestions about what God might expects from us.
I have a story to tell you about a woman who was going through a hard time and how many people did little things for her that helped her family. I could have told you many stories of people who have been helped by others but I chose this one. More women and children are affected by poverty and hunger than men. It is a known fact. I wanted to tell her story, Grace's story, to see that there are little things we can do to bring hope to another person.
Grace lived in Milwaukee with her husband and young daughter. Both of them had jobs to help them live in a small room and buy the groceries. They worked opposite shifts so there was always someone there to babysit their daughter. Grace worked in a small restaurant in the back washing dishes and preparing food. Her husband, Ronald, worked full time at an industrial job in Milwaukee.
One day Grace the restaurant manager called her a side and told her the business was not bringing in enough money. He also was concerned when he had found out that she was pregnant with her second child. His insurance would increase. So, Grace was fired. She went home and told her husband about the loss. Both were very concerned. Ronald was determined to find another job in addition to his current job, so he could support the family. Grace asked around if anyone needed a babysitter so she could make some extra money.
Ronald continued working any additional hours he could but could not find a third shift part-time job. While he was searching for the second job a police officer picked him up for questioning about a robbery that had just happened in the neighbor hood and arrested him on suspicion of robbery.
When the police called Ron's wife, there was no answer because she did not have a cell phone. The next day she had to go to her neighbor to report he was missing. The neighbor was gracious enough to enough to let her make several phone calls. Remember that inexpensive cell phones have limits on calls. When she found out where he was, she had to have bus fare money and find out what buses she must take to the jail. Another neighbor in the building lent her an old stroller to make the trip easier.
As she was crossing the street, a wheel came off the stroller and she ended up carrying her daughter and broken stroller to the other side. She stood there for a moment wondering what she was going to do next. A car double parked next to her and a woman opened her trunk and took out a used stroller and gave it to Grace. "Take this one", she said and slipped a ten dollar bill in her hand. Grace was able to get home safely and easily.
With the ten dollar bill she was able to buy a little food at the local grocery store until she was able to apply for food stamps. One of the workers at the food store knew that Grace's husband was in jail and offered to take her to the food stamp office in her car whenever she could arrange to get off of work. What a big help because pushing a stroller in the snow was so difficult and then having to pay for the bus ride gets expensive.
Word had spread about the problems of Grace. People from her church brought food not once but many times. A big batch of spaghetti and meatballs can last three nights. Others invited her to dinner often so they could listen many times to the same story. When the pregnancy progressed, people she did not know would leave infant clothing outside her door. People arranged for babysitting for her first child and planned several ways to get Grace to the hospital.
I could go and on about the caring and love Grace received when her friends even strangers helped. Sometimes it is the poor, that help other poor, are the better examples. The poor understand and know what the embarrassment, heartbreak, and lack of funds feel like.
The real reason, I think, that Jesus told this story is so our eyes can be opened and that we can become more innovative and creative so we can see more clearly the people and situations around us. We are always ready to be compassionate to the people around us. But sometimes we have to look more closely. Jesus wants us to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept hidden. We are here to bring Light to others by looking more carefully of the needs around us. We become as part of the millions of lights around us.
There are unavoidable consequences of thoughtfulness, patience and unbridled kindness to be had in the ripple effect our compassion to others. (The Universe)