Homelessness and Naivete from both Sides of the Corridor
1 Corinthians 14:20 “Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”
We didn’t know. I mean we trusted all our priests, Christian missions, social justice efforts. This is not an uncommon attitude. We have sympathy for the homeless, compassion, give out a few bucks here and there to the street beggars.
Being tired of the Miami rat race, we found ourselves in Gainesville, FL for about a year. Certainly a nice town, not too large, a university atmosphere, with a rural culture in and about. I taught some education classes as an adjunct at a local campus of a Catholic university. My wife house wived it. There was a blurb in the Gainesville Sun. Our church which we had just joined was having a small reception in honor of the recent successful fund raiser on behalf of the local homeless population and all were invited. “Oh, how nice”, we said to ourselves, and we decided to attend. We really wanted to be a part of our Catholic community, and get to know more people. We certainly were strong participants at our Miami church, St. Rose of Lima and felt we could contribute again in some way.
Patting themselves on the back I suppose; that’s what these small events are, or even big events to help raise some more money. We drove to the dining hall at our Holy Faith Catholic Church. There was a clear sign directing visitors to the entrance. We were casually dressed, jeans, t- shirts, sneakers. We arrived at the door and peaked in. A little surprised, we saw men in suits and women in gowns all sipping champagne. Fancy. Well, perhaps a little uncomfortable, we thought we should enter anyway. A priest came to the door, I suppose to greet and welcome us. How nice.
“Yes?” He said to us. “Can I help you?”
“Uh, well we are here for the church event.” we replied.
He took a good look at us. We didn’t have on a suit and tie or gown. Rather as I said, jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, a beard that belied my college professor identity. Did I mention one of us was black? Always a concern. We were just regular folks as I thought of us.
“Oh, you need to go around back with the rest. There are refreshments and appetizers there.” said the priest.
Well, what do you think and who do you think was in the back and not in the dining area of the church? The other homeless like us, he apparently surmised. We were shocked. He told us to go around back with the other homeless. The priest hesitated and then realized the obvious booboo of judging us from our looks and became a little embarrassed. It was supposedly open to all, but he still did not invite us in. Yes, we left. Got nothing against the homeless, but we were insulted. I hope you can understand. You know what I call these people at the reception? - liberals, not Christians.
Proverbs 14:15 -” The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.”
So, I see it as trusting people not realizing that priests and other donators for the poor could be prejudiced too. Well, that was our first lesson.
Proverbs 22:3 “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”
I always considered Minnesotans a naive lot. I know we are naive, but not nearly as much as them. Course, they do know about business, we don’t. Some of the best and nicest individuals I ever met are from Minnesota. Nice, but naive. They are definitely a people that look out for others, personally and socially, and have social justice concerns. I met a fellow in St. Paul, MN who told me this story about his recent visit to Miami. Lots of crime in Miami, mind you. He was with friends and family walking under the Interstate 95 overpass. You don’t do that there. They came across some homeless people sleeping in cardboard boxes.
“How could they ignore these people like this?” they said to themselves. Minnesota houses all their homeless.
“Hi, we’re visiting from Minnesota. Can we help you out with anything? We’ll come back with some food for you.”
So, off they went to find a local restaurant and came back with some Chinese - chow mein, egg rolls, won ton, plastic silverware and plates, the works. The small group, the disheveled, dirty selves, were still there waiting. Sure enough, they looked at the food, and out came their own knives. They roughed them all up badly - parents, children, friends. Cut their clothes, not them themselves thank God, and scared them all to death. They took all their money and credit cards, and oh yes, took the food. It was easy for them. Don’t you think they should have known better?