Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Beggar

Today, after mass, my family was enjoying the sunshine and talking to fellow parishoners in the courtyard when I was was approached by a person who was evidently down on her luck. She singled me out and asked me for money to buy a burger.

I hate when this happens, because I never know the right thing to do. I don't have a high degree of confidence that any money I give would actually go to a burger, but when I am standing in front of the church, representing the Christians of our parish, how can I refuse? Would I refuse Christ Himself if he asked me for money to buy food?

I gave Jay some money to give to her. I was so upset about the situation that I couldn't even do her the decency of looking her in the eye to give her the money myself. Why? Because I knew that this really wasn't the best way to help her. But my response was my fault, not hers. I should have looked her in the eye.

What I realized, even before I got to the car, was that I should have sent her to the rectory for food. I know the office staff keeps food for those who ask, and plenty do because our church is in a poor part of town. I wish I could have kept my head and done the right thing. But I didn't.

I am sorry, lady from the church, for not treating you with the human dignity you deserve. I am sorry, and I will try to do better the next time.

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