There is a black man, bearded, short, muscular, who pushes a shopping cart filled with his sleeping bag and bulging sacks up and down a business street in our community. This has been his home for decades. At intervals, he pauses, sings with deep soul, rants to invisible audiences, or crouches over sticks, pointed end to end. His name is Johnny.

Yet he is well cared for in all seasons.

An anonymous network of helpers maintains his lifestyle: owners of shops, of grocery stores, and of restaurants, together with doctors, nurses, and the parish priest. Dollars offered by pedestrians are often found tucked under the stone planters in front of the church, his way of saying thanks. And during cold spells, police have housed and fed him in the jail. When younger, a benefactor provided him with round trip bus tickets to a warmer city.

All of this gives me pause…

Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of Matthew (25:35-37): “For I was hungry and you gave me food; thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me; in prison and you came to see me.”

Years ago, a wise woman told me that nothing is as it seems.

 

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