My friend David came by - like he does every week - to bring me communion and say the Rosary. David works with elderly Jesuit Priests all day and then uses his lunch hour to bring me communion. He's done it every week for over a decade. He's a gem. Today he said, "Another war in the Middle East, Iranian missiles, an eccentric Jewish billionaire is buying our election, in America a Nazi opens fire in a Sikh House of Worship, there's drought in the breadbasket and possibly food shortages next year..." His voice trailed off and he shook his head. Then I said, "You forgot the outbreak of West Nile Virus and Swine Flu." His mouth dropped open. Then he said, "I'm not an alarmist but things are looking dark, very dark. I said, "Forty years ago some friends of mine headed for the hills to wait for Armageddon. That's finally beginning to look like a good idea." So we prayed extra hard. We asked God to have mercy on us. To forgive out greedy rush towards self-destruction.
Later, I watched commercials for gold and survival gear. I saw ads claiming the United Nations was plotting with Hilary and Obama was coming to take all our guns. They were all warning me in ominous tones of the coming disaster. All telling me to prepare for the Second Coming by stocking up on guns and gold. But all I could think of was the man I passed outside the grocery store. He was dirty and rumpled. He had a small sign asking for help, "money for food" it said. He was hungry, I know that look. It doesn't matter how he ended up there. He was hungry and asking for help. But he freightened me and I looked away. I have a wheelchair, I have an excuse. I had ten dollars in my hand and it would have been easy. I don't need that ten dollars. But I looked away and went home.
Once safely inside, I put my groceries in the fridge and saw the leftovers from the other night. Ruth had come by and brought me dinner - chicken breasts and mashed potatoes, some ripe cantaloupe. I didn't want it although it was still perfectly good. As I tossed it I thought of the hungry man. I could offer it to him. Waste not want not. But I tossed it. I have excuses. I have a wheelchair and oxygen tanks and I'm already home.
Now tonight I keep remembering Jesus. I remember "Whatever you do for the least of these" I remember "I was hungry and you didn't feed me" I looked away. I was afraid and I looked away. I had money in my hand and I went home. Jesus was hungry and I didn't feed him. There's not enough gold on earth to buy my way out of that. Not even Sheldon Adelson's gold can fix that.
Mother Teresa said, “The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved - they are Jesus in disguise... Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well... The poor give us much more than we give them. They're such strong people, living day to day with no food, and they never curse, never complain. We have so much to learn from them...
Only in heaven will we see how much we owe the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.”
I promise, next time, I won't look away. A kind word, few bucks a small bit of comfort for the forsaken in this Ayn Rand hell.