On Guadalupe

Living in Spring, Texas for the vast majority of my life, I hardly ever counter diversity.  Granted, Houston is much more diverse than say Arlington (though there were alot of Asians around UTA), but I still didn\’t encounter very many people that were different, race or socioeconomic class, than me.  Austin, however is incredibly diverse, which I\’m excited about because with diversity comes new opportunities and a broader understanding about the world in which we live in.  We need this broadened view in order to make positive changes throught the world.  However, as much as I would love to say that I embrace this diversity to the fullest extent, I can\’t help but feel out of my element admist everyone.  For example, the other day in the elevator I was the only person that wasn\’t speaking a foreign language.  So with this preface, I have not yet been accustomed to the amount of poverty in the city of Austin, specifically \”the drag\”.  So today, as I was heading to church (ironically enough), a homeless man came up to me, as is custom, and asked if I had any spare change.  Now to be completely honest, I had change in my wallet.  In fact I almost always have change.  However, I have been conditioned not to give \”those\” people money.  As many of my peers were taught when we were little, \”they\’ll\” just use that money to buy booze and drugs.  Besides if you actually stopped and gave them money, \”they\’d\” probably attack you or mug you or something, therefore your personal safety is on the line.  Therefore, homeless people and any stranger for that matter, is something to be afraid of and certainly not trusted.  So I looked at him, smiled and said in the nicest way I could lie, \”No, I\’m sorry.\”  I hate lying, but at that moment I didn\’t know what else to do.  I couldn\’t very well stop on the drag and pull out my wallet and say, \”Why yes sir, I do in fact have change.\”, or at least that\’s what my logic in my head was. Perhaps I was afraid of him, which would make sense, because I\’ve always been told to be afraid of \”them\”.  Maybe I didn\’t want to hand him change for fear that he\’d use it for drugs or booze.  Maybe I didn\’t want to give him something of mine, because I\’m just as greedy as the next American.  Maybe I didn\’t want to waste my time actually stopping and going through the effort of giving him change.  I had somewhere I was supposed to be, or at least, where I wanted to be and giving the homeless man on the drag was not in my agenda.  There are so many ways to justify it in my head.  On any other day this would be the end of it.  The homeless man would go on his day and I would go on mine and I wouldn\’t think twice about the encounter.  It was simply what I did.  I would push it out of my mind and then go on being the \”Good Christian\” that I claim, but fail all too often, to be.  But on this particular day, after I gave the man the usual lie of a response, he looked at me and said.  \”That\’s ok, thank you. Have a beautiful day!\”  This homeless man said this with so much sincerity and genuine good spirits that I couldn\’t help but stop and feel touched by this heartfelt response.  In so much of the world today, it is very rare to find even one sincere person and one would never expect to find it in a raggedy old homeless man begging for money.  In fact, that would be one of the last places I would look to find a good, sincere person.  \”Those\” people are outcasted for a reason.  \”They\” can\’t be as good as we ourselves our.  After all, I\’ve been saved.  I go to church.  I go to school.  I have a job.  I\’m doing something worthwhile in this lifetime.  I\’m a good person.  I really care about people.  I\’m not gonna waste my time, my money, my resources, my dignity on anything that society tells us isn\’t worth it.  So if, all these things are true, then why was I moved by what that man had said.  He was one of \”those\” people who could connect to people on a personal level.  He was one of \”those\” people that made you feel good about yourself and cared about.  There\’s only a select few of \”those\” people in the world, even though we\’re called to be one of \”those\” people.  It was as if I saw the face, or perhaps one of the many faces of God today on the drag.  I definitly connected this situation to a higher, perhaps more important truth.  How many times does God ask for our change?  How many times does he come up to us when we don\’t plan on it and ask to give a little bit of ourselves to him, just a trifle?  He\’s not asking for alot.  He just wants a little bit of our time, our hearts.  And how many times do we say no?  That we can\’t give it to him because we have more important things to do.  That we won\’t give any \”change\” to Him because worldly culture is not concerned with God\’s work and isn\’t looked upon favorably.  How many times do we refuse to change for God, change into a holier version of ourselves in order to grow in intimacy with him?  And then…how many times does God bestow blessing on us even when we don\’t obey?  Have you ever thought about that?  I\’m incredibly selfish, I\’ve determined, and have routinely gone against God\’s will over and over again.  Yet, God has still blessed me with so much.  He has given me so many opportunities.  I have people in this life that love me.  I have the blessing to be able to be educated (a blessing very few girls in this world will ever even dream about.) I don\’t have to worry about poverty.  I don\’t have to worry about not having what I need or not being able to get proper healthcare.  I don\’t have to worry about being persecuted for my race or, for the most part, my religion, or political views.  There is very little for me to be worried about.  I\’m young.  I\’m healthy.  I\’m secure.  As I sit here and complain about my statistics homework, there are people in the world who would be willing to die for the opportunity to take a higher level course.  I take so much for granted.  I say I\’m a good Catholic, but the more I look at my life and what my actions convey, I realize that I am not even remotely living up to a portion of what I\’m called to.  If I can\’t even spare some change for a homeless man in my community, how can I expect other people to be caring and considerate.  I\’m a big proponent of the government helping poor people, and I agree that it is our responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable members of our society.  And yet, when it comes down to day to day life, I fail miserably to live out these ideals that I hold so deep to my heart.  I\’m a world of contradictions and hipocracies.  I say we should help poor people and when I get the chance to, I don\’t.  Oh how much respect I have for Mother Teresa who went out to India and was a living example of Christ\’s love.  How I wish I could say I was an example of how a good Catholic should be.  And yet, the man was so kind to me.  He told me to have a beautiful day.  Even in his poverty, he still cared more about me having a good day than whether or not he\’d get change.  The money wasn\’t important.  The person was.  He knew that.  He saw me as a fellow human being and that gave us an unbreakable connection.  Even admist the contradictions I have inside of me, God still loves me.  Even when I don\’t obey him, God still loves me.  Even though I fail to live up to what I need and want, he still pours out his blessings on me.  What an amazing God!  The homeless man will most likely never know the impact his words had on me today.  For him, it was just a statement, probably a fleeting one.  But sometimes the smallest behavior has life-changing ramifications.

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