In the seminary there would be two weeks every January where we would leave our 10’ x 12’ rooms to stay at a convent. During the day we would work at different shelters, food pantries, and soup kitchens. One of the reasons for doing this would be to get to know the neighbors who came to the soup kitchens, to eat with them and understand their needs. And we were told to wear our worst looking jeans and sweatshirts so we would blend in with others. Let me share one specific dinner.
I was paired with another seminarian from St Louis. It was immediately clear to me he had never been on the street or worked in a shelter or a soup kitchen. That day we got our meal and sat down next two some other people there. Apparently one of them was on the street for the first time in his life. This is January and he was looking for ideas where to stay, word was it was going to be extremely cold. I had helped out at different shelters while I was at the seminary, so I gave him some addresses of various shelters. I also gave him a list of other soup kitchens. In Milwaukee you can always get a free lunch at some church if you know where to go. The seminarian from St Louis had no idea what we were talking about, but he noticed that the guy I was talking to took his orange and put it in his pocket. So, the seminarian started asking other people if they were going to eat their orange. If they said no he would ask for it and give it to the guy I was talking to. He ended up with about eight oranges.
The guy was very thankful for the information I gave him. I know in my heart he would not be on the street long. He just did not have anywhere to go now. My seminarian friend on the other hand was very indignant. He told me he gave that guy eight oranges and he never said thank you. How we judge people? Is it not?
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen