Practicing What We Preach

I live in a part of the country that many people sometimes consider backward. It is a mostly blue-collar, predominately Protestant, good ol’ boy American place. Nothing wrong with that, per se, but we do have a seemingly high concentration of narrow-minded people…but I have found that really those people are just the loudest people. Most of the people are simple, naïve folks that are simply ignorant of many things and ways of the world. There are a few (and typically those few tend to seize power, I notice) that are willfully narrow-minded and perpetuate their myopic views to the masses to forward their own agendas.  These are the people that take Fox News as the Gospel instead of doing their own research or reading the ACTUAL Gospel to spread the real teachings of Jesus…and these people make me mad enough to spit poison.

So….THIS happened in my hometown recently……

I don’t know why I was so shocked at the rude verbiage used, considering the source, but every time I run into something like this, I am still amazed at the hate and bigotry we allow to bombard us and fill our souls.  What is worse, to me, is that when this disgusting article was blasted all over facebook amongst my local cronies, lots of them LIKED it. People that I KNOW to be decent, nice people and that certainly consider themselves Christian and attend or have been raised in the very biggest, most prominent church in our area. The church I was raised in…I was reminded of reasons why I left, to say the least.

The stupid article has little to no information or backstory. Its sole purpose is to instill hate and fear of poor people and keep them marginalized.

THIS article has a lot more information…but I noticed no one bothered to look it up or any other information surrounding the events to find out the whys and wherefores.

There is still probably lots missing to the whole story, and certainly no one knows the individual stories or character of the homeless people involved except themselves, but that is true of ANYBODY, whatever their race, creed, or social or economic standing. Which is the POINT…you cannot judge anyone in such a manner. Just because someone is poor or homeless doesn’t make them a criminal, any more than just because someone is a rich doctor or CEO makes that person a saint.

I do not know Sean Cononie, and I have never even met him. I cannot vouch for his true motives in anything or his personal character or his religious views, but I can give him and his organization the benefit of the doubt and I can also praise him for helping those that are down on their luck. He is showing the compassion that Jesus commands us to show as Christians. He is also helping the people learn to make their own way again and contribute to their group and society, which is the “American” way, after all. The way that so many of those Bible-thumping, flag-waving narrow-minded people spout at the mouth and yet refuse to practice.

Heaven only knows where I would be now if Jesus had not shown me infinite grace and mercy, had not put compassionate people in my life to steer me back to the path or encourage me along the way.  My sweet mama who suddenly grew a backbone of steel and forced her hard-headed teenage daughter to do the right thing by her baby and by her own life. My son’s grandmother, who is one of my very best friends, who forgave and loved a broken-hearted girl past her pain. My high-school English teacher who helped me find my voice. My fourth and fifth grade teacher, Ms. Key, who taught me everything I needed to know was within my reach if I was resourceful enough to seek it out.  My husband, who taught a very love-jaded somewhat promiscuous woman what it means to be loved by a godly man. The lovely people that share my faith…the sweet ladies I have met at church, the wonderful bloggers I follow, the lay-people and clergy alike…that have taught me there are people with kind hearts and courage to share the true meaning of Jesus’ message.  The many, many friends and strangers that have shown random acts of kindness that caused a ripple effect. All of these people have been the channels of grace to get me where I am. All of this has taught me that I need to always keep my soul clean and hands open to be the channel of grace that may be needed for someone else.

Imagine if Jesus responded to the poor the way some of us do. Imagine if he refused to heal the lepers or show mercy to the prostitutes. What would even be the POINT of our religion???? Jesus himself was practically homeless, wandering and living off the charity of others. Indeed, he and a whole giant group of dudes and ladies were wandering about asking for handouts.

I don’t do online pleads for money (unless it is a cause I am certain of), but I can never pass a homeless person by without trying to give them a little something. If I have nothing on me or miss an opportunity, I am eaten alive with guilt.  People have pointed out that there are plenty of liars holding up cardboard signs and have Cadillacs parked around the corner. So? Unless I know that for an absolute fact that they are lying, I am called to show mercy and compassion and help my fellow human. Their lie would be between them and God—Jesus knows my intentions were pure.  People have pointed out that they are collecting money for booze or drugs…again, that is between them and God. I agree that it is sad when people have addictions they feel they cannot overcome and are wasting their life away; I try to hand out food instead of money whenever I can to homeless on the street so as not to enable addictions, but I cannot assume that every homeless person IS an addict. People have pointed out that many people have willfully abandoned their families and so forth. I agree that is awful, but MY conscience and sense of Christian duty is not waived or contingent upon their unknown history.

As far as I know, Mother Teresa didn’t stop to ask questions of the poor, plagued people on their death-beds. She didn’t refuse to wipe their brow, spoon feed them soup, change their bandages, or say a prayer for them dependent upon their deed or misdeeds. She just gave of herself until she was called home.

Knowing about her and the countless other good people and saints that preceded her and followed in her footsteps, how can anyone turn their head to those suffering around them? Even NOT knowing about them, how could anyone assume that they may not fall or stumble themselves one day and need the assistance of someone?

It can happen to anyone, at any time. And bad things WILL happen to everyone at sometime. There, but for the grace of God, go I…and what we do for the least of our brethren we do also for Him.

Catholics commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus every day with the Mass, but the entire Christian world especially calls the new covenant to mind this weekend with Easter.  It would do us all good to remember the ministry of Jesus and our duty to “go ye therefore, teaching all nations” of God’s infinite and eternal grace, mercy, and love for ALL of us.

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