Making Sandwiches for the Smallest and Most Forgotten

15 Feb

  Recently, I have been going to help out on the food line, making sandwiches, handing them out, and chatting with people who are hungry. I am a little surprised at myself, since usually I stick with my books and my pints. I guess something made me realize it had to be done. One cannot be Christian if one does not serve others in some way, especially the poor. Dorothy Day pointed out the connection between being a true believer and serving. She explained that “those who cannot see Christ in the poor are atheists indeed.” How can we see Christ in the poor, if we are not with the poor? So, in September, I started going to serve for a couple hours a week.

ing Sandwiches for the Smallest and Most Forgotten - Terence Sweeney

Christ of the Breadlines Fritz Eichenber

  I don’t do much: put some sandwiches in bags, give them to people. I sit down with old ladies on the ground and talk about the weather and the places we have lived (an apartment on Grand Ave; a cardboard tent by the highway). At the end of my time there, I head back to my school work and leave them to move along. As our conversation ends, I look at the person and realize that I have no idea what they do or what their life is like.

  So, have I seen Christ in the poor? I have shaken a few cracked hands, heard anger and laughter, seen weariness, and smelled people for whom a shower is a luxury. That is what I think of as I stand in a steaming shower. Jesus didn’t have this, not because it was 30 AD, but because he was dirt poor. If Jesus walked into our homes we would probably grimace because he, like the homeless lady I was speaking with, smelled bad.

  Bartolomé de las Casas once wrote that “God has a special memory for the smallest and most forgotten.” We will be judged by whether we too have remembered and helped those forgotten people on the streets, in hospitals, on death row. It is a scary to think that I have forgotten so many people who just need a helping hand or a sandwich. Jesus never forgot them; because, He was one of them. And I believe, that the Catholic Church, so full of sinners like me, does not forget either (although her memory can be a bit foggy). The Church remembers through Her many charitable organizations and in Her commitment to a society in which the smallest and most forgotten are taken care of.

  I have not learned anything ground breaking by handing out sandwiches. I suppose in a way I have just become more of Christian by spending a little time with Christ in the poor. I have realized how poor I am in my own grumpy heart. And I think I can see that an essential way to rediscover Jesus and his poor Church is by being with the poor, the elderly, and the unwanted. Just as Jesus did and as He calls us all to.

-Terence Sweeney

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