I learned of someone in a neighboring community who, every morning until his tragic death, lived out Jesus’ command to care for the poor. This man, whom I will call George, died over two years ago after being struck by a drunk driver as he was walking in the early morning hours along a roadway, presumably going about his morning task as he had done many mornings before. It was a foggy morning. His death hit the headlines of the local paper, but unfortunately his story did not.
George was an “older” man, divorced a number of years. It is my understanding that he continued to look after his ex-wife in her needs, despite the legal status of their relationship. I don’t know the events that led to the divorce, but his concern for her remained, and apparently was accepted by his ex-wife. George was also someone who we now know retrospectively had a heart for the poor, especially the homeless. You see, there is a fairly large number of people in the city who live under the bridge between the city and an island that is part of a township. Quite frankly, few people in this city of over 50,000 citizens are aware of them, but George knew. He knew for a long time.
Each morning, I am now told, George would go to the nearby McDonald’s restaurant and buy a lot of breakfast sandwiches and cups of coffee and walk toward that bridge. He would clamber down the embankment and there he would feed whoever was there. I have heard that some of the local neighborhood knew of this and would chide him a bit, but he would just cheerily respond, “It’s time for breakfast!”
I heard of his story a couple of days ago from a woman who has picked up where George has left off, at least in a limited sense, for she occasionally will run to the nearby convenience store and buy up the doughnut specials for the day, and numerous cups of coffee, and take them to the residents of that bridge. This lady is well acquainted with a life of hardship herself.
That is all I know about George, but I can assure you there are hundreds of homeless people who knew him far better than I or you will ever know him, for he sustained their lives and their hope by simply doing what Jesus has commanded all of us to do, i.e. love our neighbor as we would love ourselves out of love for God.
Eternal rest grant unto George, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him! May his sould and all the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen!