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Gebre Menfes Kidus, This quote is beautiful and moves me to tears. Are you on facebook? If so, you should post it there.I used to refrain from giving something to beggars, figuring that many might be crooks. But over time I have realized, through the teaching of the Church, that they might also be Christ or an angel, and who am I to judge? Now, I try to help them out if I can, and when I do, I always ask them for their first name and I tell them that I will pray for them, and I try to remember to do this. What they do with the money and the prayers is ultimately their business. I don't like to talk about this so I won't go into more details but I think that when we start to see Our Lord in the least of our brethren, we will stop missing the chances to get closer to Him.
Angels UnawaresWhile sitting in a sidewalk cafe with my friend, Archpriest Basil Rhodes, having a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, we noticed a homeless man stop behind me. The man was staring at our food, so Father Basil asked him if he was hungry. He answered with an enthusiastic "yes", and when Father asked what he'd like to eat, he said "eggs and sausage". Father Basil told him they didn't have such a breakfast here, but gave him five dollars to buy it somewhere else.The whole time this conversation was taking place with this homeless man, another man, around thirty years of age, was standing nearby, listening to every word. As the homeless man walked away, the younger man walked up and confronted us with the question, "how could you give money to a junky? You are not doing him any good by giving him money. Aren't you men of God?"I responded by saying that it was not our place to judge anyone, to which he replied, in a confrontational manner, "he's just going to buy drugs with that money. You don't seem to be very intuitive". I told him I'd worked with the homeless before, and that the man was hungry and deserving of our charity. The man said "cheers" and dismissively walked away.A woman seated at a nearby table called over with the words, "good response". She then came over to our table, knelt down beside me, and with tears in her eyes, identified herself as a social worker, and told us she'd been going through a particularly difficult time, and that the interaction she'd just witnessed had helped her immensely.I then told this woman the story of the time I was walking with an elderly bishop of the Russian Church, and how I had spotted a filthy homeless man walking towards us. This man's hair was disheveled, filthy with years of dirt, and was wearing torn clothing. He had no soles on his shoes, so with each step we could see the bottom of his feet. Instinctively, I took the elbow of the bishop, and attempted to get him to cross in the middle of the street. The bishop asked why, and I said, "Look at the crazy man coming towards us". The bishop told me we were not crossing, but would continue.When directly in front of the the man, the bishop stopped, reached out, taking the man's filthy right hand into his own, and placed a twenty dollar bill into the man's hand, covering the bill with the man's left hand. At that moment the man looked up into our eyes, saying nothing. But looking back were the bluest, clearest eyes I had ever seen. They were not the eyes of a homeless man, nor the eyes of a deranged man, eyes filled with wisdom and holiness.As we walked away, I remarked about the man's eyes, to which the bishop responded by saying, "We just encountered an angel unaware, and we were being tested," recalling the words of Scripture, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2).After the social worker left, a man seated at a nearby table remarked, "that was a remarkable story, and you made my wife cry". This other couple had witnessed the whole of these encounters.A moment later, the young man who'd judged us so harshly after the original encounter, returned. He came up, asked forgiveness for having judged us, and said he'd "just seen the homeless man buying yogurt and fruit" with the money we'd given him. I stood up, gave the young man a hug, and we all parted ways.With love in Christ,Abbot Tryphon
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