Yesterday my amazing wife Aleta joined me as a team from our church, in partnership with 2nd Harvest Food Bank, gave out food to the quiet sufferers in our community who are what 2nd Harvest defines as “food insecure.” It always moves me when I join with the saints of Faith Community Church to hand out food to the “food insecure” – people who are quietly barely keeping a roof over their heads, with a food budget low in the list of life priorities just to keep that roof over their head, and even lower on their list are fresh fruits and vegetables that will proactively keep they and their children healthy. It was moving to watch my dear wife tear up behind her sunglasses as we ministered to these lovely people giving them food and blessing them in the name of Jesus. One of the amazing workers on our team shared with me, “You know Andy, participating in this is opening up things in my own heart – things that need to be opened.” This entire experience makes me think of the words, teaching, and life of Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa was repeatedly asked through the years why she worked with the poorest and most broken of the poor on the streets of Calcutta. She always said, “It’s not hard, because in each one I see the face of Christ in one of His more distressing disguises.”
In another interview she explained what this meant to her. “The poor are wonderful people. One evening we went and picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the Sisters: “You take care of the other three. I will take care of this one that looks worse.” So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only, “Thank you,”, and she died. I could not help but examine my conscience before her, and I asked, “What would I say if I was in her place?” And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, “I’m hungry; I’m dying, I’m cold, I’m in pain,” or something. She gave me much more – she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. Like the man whom we picked up from the drain. half eaten with worms; we brought him to the home. “I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for.” And it was so wonderful to see the greatness of a man who could speak like that, who could die like that, without blaming anybody, without cursing anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel – that is the greatness of our people.
And that is why we believe what Jesus has said, “I was hungry, I was naked, I was homeless, I was unwanted, unloved, uncared for, and you did it to me.”
I confess the challenge and the mystery this all is to me personally, along with the challenge this is to my calling as a pastor. Does this challenge you?