Sunday, October 28, 2012

The mysterious beggar

Yesterday I went to buy a new pair of trousers while my wife was with the children at the playground (remember, it was my turn for confession, which I had done just a few days before). It was one of the first really chilly days this year. Winter is definitely drawing near.

Across the street from the store a beggar was sitting on the ground asking for money. As I got closer I noticed that he was wearing only a sweater and a pair of shorts. He pulled up his knees to his chest and pulled down his sweater on his shin, all the way to his ankles. He was wearing no shoes and no socks either. He was shaking from the cold.

My first thought was that he surely had some extra clothes in the bag he had near him. But one thought came back insisting: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me (Mt 25:40). So I decided that I would help him. I saw some people trowing some coins into the cup he was holding in his hand, but I felt that this man needed something else.

In I went to the store and straight to the blankets. I picked a nice, warm one for my beggar. I even spent some time choosing the color. I took the blanket with me to pick the pair of trousers for myself. I took it with me to the fitting room as well. While trying on some jeans I decided that I'd also get him a hot chocolate and engage in a short conversation with him.

Before lining up to pay, I went to the door to double check if my beggar was still there, but he was already gone. I ended up paying for the jeans only and left the blanket in the store.

Who was that man? Was he a person really in need or one of those who unfortunately fall victims of organized crime to collect money for their masters like the poor boys depicted in Slumdog Millionaire? One thing is for sure: one way or the other he was a person in need, Christ present in the street for me.

Was God only testing my generosity and promptness to give? I don't know, but I wish I had acted faster.

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