Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Homeless Man

I did not get his name. He wandered onto the train, begging for money. He was a homeless Vietnam Vet. I was skeptical of his story until he pulled his knitted toboggan off and you could see where half his forehead was gone from a shatter blast. His wife had died of cancer years ago, and he had slowly sunk into despair, depression and loss of all his worldly goods over the years. He had become a beggar with no home or family.

Now, what I found to be curious was that he was a white man, but every person who gave him money that day (at least 7 individuals) was black. I have often seen the white man give to the black beggar, but this truly warmed my heart, especially to see the black folks' generosity to one in need in spite of his color. I once was told that "God does not see the  color of your skin" and that day, I clearly saw evidence that mercy and charity work both ways.

It was winter and extremely cold outside and I asked, "Where is your coat?"  He told me it was stolen when he was trying to check into one of the local shelters. All I had was a pair of stretch black woolen gloves and I gladly gave him those. The question is, had I been a man, would I have given him my good coat? He loudly recited this verse in its entirety from the Bible.  (Matthew 25:35-40).

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

He was pulled from the train after the next stop by a police officer who happened to be on board. I will never see this man again but he and the other "givers" taught me the greatest story of love that day.

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