Jane starts this week’s chapter by acknowledging that volunteering for St Vincent de Paul is not a job you do for praise. The volunteers do what they do out of love for Christ in service to the community. A man comes in asking for pants for his cousin who works too many hours to come in himself. Jane gets him the clothing and he wants to help out somehow in return. At first Jane refuses his help, but a co-worker has him rake leaves and then his is happily on his way. While reading the teachings of St Vincent during prayer time, Jane realizes it was Christ’s help she refused and recognizes that she has much to learn from the poor. Next, the Thrift Store is gifted with a bakery’s worth of day-old bread. They give away as much as possible to customers, but are afraid they’ll have to throw out the rest. Some even refuse the bread because it’s been on the floor which reminds Jane that everyone has dignity. At the last minute a woman comes in who works for a group home and says she’ll take all they have for the home’s freezer.
More often than not, the poor are people that smell and appear very unattractive. It’s easy to look down on them as less than the people they are and forget that they are made in God’s image. This story reminds me of the scripture passage from Isaiah 53 which is always read during the Triduum. It describes Jesus during his suffering and death as someone “despised and from whom men hide their face.” The pretty crosses we have hanging in our homes or offices show Jesus as a beautiful hero, yet the reality over 2,000 years ago could not have been pretty to look at. He must have been so bloody and dirty. I’m sure He smelled from the sweat of carrying His cross all that way. Would I have looked at Him with dignity then? I’d like to think so, but how interesting that this realistic image of Jesus matches that of the poor today. Lord, help me see you in the face of every human person.
- When have I not treated someone with dignity because they didn’t look or smell like they deserved it?
- When have I seen Jesus in the face of someone less fortunate?