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Cathi Kennedy reflects on the ways we are called to love others, and the impact of even the smallest kind acts.

"Avert your eyes: human being in need." Those words were on a sign a man sitting on a curb outside Lucas Oil Field held. Was he homeless? Was he making a political or social statement? Both? Did it matter? I'll never know. Like hundreds of others, I averted my eyes and walked right past. But the words have stayed with me.  

I've been to two big metropolitan cities this week. I've encountered dozens of homeless people in a short period, shaking their change cups, muttering to themselves, saying "God bless you" when I scurried by like a guilty child.  

Yesterday I had to run an errand before heading to work. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a blanket in a doorway. I quickly realized that there was a person wrapped in the blanket. I was on my way to Target. I grabbed a sandwich, a bottle of water, and some fruit. I grabbed a toothbrush as an afterthought. I left the bag of items at his feet when I walked past. He was wrapped in the blanket with his back to me. I didn't wake him; I wasn't looking for recognition. 




And I'm not looking for recognition now—that's not why I'm writing this. Giving a man a sandwich was a tiny drop in an endless ocean compared to the good that other people do daily. But when the person woke up, maybe he felt less invisible.  

So why am I writing? Well, maybe one person will read this, and the next time they see a homeless person, they won't avert their eyes. They'll hold the gaze, just for a moment. And they'll offer a sandwich or a dollar or a conversation. And also so I can keep this in my memory and do the same.  

Jesus commanded us, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." It's not a suggestion; it's not a recommendation. Jesus tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless. Nowhere does He say to judge whether your neighbor is needy enough.  

It seems that there is endless need and few too many resources. Many struggle to feed their families, let alone give to others. If we have the means to give, we should give. If we do not, we should offer prayers and help however we can. Perhaps you can volunteer at a shelter or find well-loved clothing or toys to donate. Small actions, but the ripple effect can be great.  


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Jesus tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless. Nowhere does He say to judge whether your neighbor is needy enough.


Yesterday, I made a to-do list like I do every day. Update PowerPoint presentation, make a hair appointment, and buy groceries. Nowhere on the list was "positively impact one person's life in the smallest way." But it should be. If we all added that one thing to our endless to-do lists—well, I'm not sure it would fix the world, but it could fix one moment of one person's world.

St. Teresa of Calcutta succinctly said, "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." Amen. 



Copyright 2023 Cathi Kennedy
Images: Canva