I was driving to work one day last month when I stopped at a red light. I was about 3 cars back, when suddenly this man appeared on the side of the road. His long, stringy hair hung like a curtain in front of his face, and his clothes were worn. He clutched a cardboard sign on which he had written, “HUNGRY” in big block letters. Before I had a chance to react, the light changed to green and the cars behind me began to honk. As I drove along I said a prayer for the man, asking God to watch over him, and went on my way.
Later on I was relating this story to my family. “I wish I would have done something.” I told my husband. “What were you going to do, give him money? He’d probably spend it on booze or drugs.” my husband replied. “Maybe.” I said in response, but for the rest of the night I couldn’t get the man out of my thoughts.
Maybe he’s just down on his luck, and doesn’t know where to turn. Maybe he lost his job through no fault of his own, or maybe he has a sick child and there are medical bills to pay. Maybe he’s overwhelmed. There were so many “maybes”.
When I woke the following morning I was still thinking of the man.
Doesn’t Jesus tell us in Matthew 25:40 “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.”
As I readied myself for work, I decided that I needed to do something. I made an extra sandwich for lunch and placed it in a paper bag. I added a bottle of water, a banana and a napkin. I also added a note, “Dear Friend, I hope this helps you in some small way. Please know that I am praying for you. God Bless you.” I included the phone number of my parish outreach.
I carried the extra lunch bag out to the car and placed it on the front seat. As I drove off, I asked God to send the man there if I was supposed to help him. I felt nervous as I approached the corner where I had seen him. There he was, cardboard sign in hand. I pulled over and tooted the car horn. As the man approached the passenger side of the car I suddenly felt afraid. What if he tried to get in my car, or hurt me? No, I thought, I have to trust in God.
I lowered the window, unbuckled my seatbelt, and wordlessly handed the lunch bag to the man. As he grabbed it from me ours eyes locked, and I wasn’t afraid anymore.
“God bless you.” he said to me as he took the lunch. “God bless you!” I replied, tears welling in my eyes, “and good luck to you.”
I never saw him again after that day. I’d like to think that maybe my small act of kindness was enough for this man to find help
How has God called you to “do for the least of these”? Please share your thoughts and comments.
God bless you, Andrea