In this week’s chapter, Jane clearly sees Christ in one of her volunteers. A homeless man comes into the store asking for clothing. The stench he gives off immediately reaches the noses of everyone in the building and Jane rushes to prop open a door. The volunteer, however, greets the man warmly, helps him try on clothes, and makes sure he has everything he needs before wishing him a pleasant day. Jane compares the dirt that the poor bring with them to the dirt that has happened in the Church with the sex abuse scandals. She reflects on how we are not to give up on the Church just like we are not to give up on the poor.
One thing I have appreciated about Jane’s books is her willingness to tackle issues that can make us uneasy. When called to serve the poor, we tend to write a check and let someone else do the ‘dirty work.’ What our Lord truly challenges us to do is roll up our sleeves and walk through the trenches with our brothers and sisters because we cannot give up on them. I am reminded of a service project that I did once with a group of middle school students. We went to Bethel Mission, a shelter for men on Des Moines’ south side, and participated in their Make A Bed Keep Them Fed program. It entailed the kids meeting in groups with men who were staying there, making their beds for them, praying with them, and then hearing their stories about how they were trying to get back on their feet. We also brought canned goods to stock their pantry. The kids learned that these men are not bad people, and I learned that teens have huge hearts.
- What opportunities are there for you to ‘walk through the trenches’ in your community?
- If you have already done so, how did your experience change your perspective on the poor?