Recently, I attended a conference. During that conference I heard a speaker call her listeners to know the homeless in their area. She reminded me that we have been entrusted with the heart of Christ, and his love is meant to be shared with all. As a witness to her story, I can say it was insightful. A seed was planted in me on that day.
A Day in Manhattan
One day I was going through the wall street area of Manhattan in New York City. I committed myself to some Masses at a Catholic Church in that area. After one of those Masses I left that church and saw a lady sitting outside that parish. She was short, dirty, with an unpleasant smell about her. I sensed that she was tired. There was a coldness about her, to keep other people at bay. As I walked by, she shook a cup in her hand asking for change. I could hear the jingle of the small amount she had in her cup. Her voice was not about a whispering pleading for more money. Her cloud of sadness add to the damp air that the day already offered the people of the area, but then she looked up.
All I knew was that she saw me and I saw her. She held up her cup. Now, I did not have any money to give her. I never carry money on me, because I know, folks want to rob me. That statement bothers me, but I know it is true from stories I have heard from New Yorkers. Does this truth bother me? Yes. But, in that moment I wanted to give her something, but I had no earthly thing to give. Then I felt that seed grow ever so slightly in my heart. My mind went to her name. If I didn’t have anything to give, maybe I could carry something for her. I asked her ‘What is your name?’
Mary Ann, she told me. As she spoke that she smiled. In her smile was a thank you. I looked at her and offered to her my own smile. After, I smiled I asked her another question? Can you do something for me? She looked at me inquisitively. She told me “Sure.” “Can you pray for me please?” To my surprise she shouted quite joyful, “YES!” I reached out and gave her a pat on the shoulder and she grabbed my hand and said, “Thank you Father.” After that I walked away thanking Jesus for his time that day.
I Called you by Name
What is there to a name? Let us never forget, God through the Prophet Isaiah tells us “I called you by name (IS. 43: 1).” When God calls us by our names, he speaks them in love. The intimacy God shows us through this passage reminds us that we to are called to act like our God, as Jesus tells us “learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart (Mt. 11:29).” Just like when God speaks our names in love, when we speak the name of another, with His, we are telling that person before us: I see you, I know you, and I love you.