KEvin Murphy Son, Father, Husband, Law Enforcer, Fighter of Fires
A few years ago, I was volunteering with the St. Joe's Samaritan Pantry. A gentleman walked up to me and asked if I would be willing to give him a ride home after he had received his disbursement of food. Being one of the few, if not the only male volunteering that day, I told him that I would. What happened next, I will never forget. As I drove, he proceeded to tell me about his life. He told me things that I had never heard anyone say. I was nervous because I had no idea how to respond. He was worried because he thought God was looking poorly on him. He opened his heart to me. But I didn't have to say anything. God put me there merely to listen to him. At that moment, God desired him to share part of his testimony and for me to hear and to let him vent his frustrations. As we arrived at his house, he thanked me for listening, and he went on his way. He was visibly relieved by having the opportunity to talk freely to someone who would listen. All I had to do is drive. I didn't have to say anything. I didn't have to carry anything. I didn't have to give him any money. I just had to drive and be open-minded, and all ears.
In the past, I regularly took time out of my busy week to help with the St. Joseph University Parish pantry. Some would say that back then, I was a regular helper. As I think back to recent memory, I can not recall the last time that I took time out of my schedule to help. Why is that? As I sit here writing this, I am trying to come up with "good" reasons why I have been absent from the pantry. While the reasons that I came up with maybe "good" in my book, are they "truely right and just" in God's book? The various Terre Haute Christian communities do well serving Terre Haute's homeless population. Each parish has quite the extensive team to get their ministries to the homeless completed every week. But every Church is always in need of help at all points of the day. Why then did I stop helping?
Today's Gospel tells us, "...the one who humbles himself will be exalted." One definition of exalted is to be "in a state of extreme happiness." This Gospel today (Sunday the 1st of September, 2019) reminded me of my time helping with the pantry. The story above is one of many stories I can share where I had a positive interaction with someone at the pantry. I would go home occasionally sore, but the physical soreness was nothing compared to spiritual growth that occurred because I trusted in God and took the time to help. I would leave the pantry, knowing that I made a difference. I kept wanting to feel that connection to Christ and his people, week after week. And it was easy! Sometimes, all they need is someone to see that they are there; that they exist. I can not begin to imagine what it would be like to have people go out of their way to avoid me in day to day life. Can you?
God doesn't expect us to open the doors of our homes to all the homeless in our community. God has already created a home for them with the Church. We, the parishioners, the elect, are the Church. Just as we long to feel at home at our parish, they too wish to feel at home somewhere in this world. Through our time, talents, and treasures, we can do our best to give the poor a home. We may not be able to provide them with a permanent roof over their head. However, we can do miracles with just a smile or a helping hand.
Next time you have the opportunity to volunteer to help the underprivileged, say yes. Regardless of how uncomfortable the idea is, know that God will provide you with the capacity to do his Will. Please remember that merely being present to those who are in most need, on behalf of Christ, could make a lasting impression that may last a lifetime.