Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

10/9/2013 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Beyond a name, his story remained a mystery, but something about Charles touched our hearts

We never heard this homeless man beg or even ask for anything, but his poverty was clear. One day, my husband took the time to stop, give the man some food and learn his name was Charles. From then on whenever they crossed paths, my husband would leave Charles with a few leftover meals to fill his empty belly.Beyond a name, his story remained a mystery, but something about Charles touched our hearts.

Highlights

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/9/2013 (10 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: poverty, Lazarus, poor, homeless, Matthew 25, love of preference for the poor, preferential option, Tara K. E. Brelinsky


ZEBULLON,NC (Catholic Online) - Long, stringy, unkept hair framed his down-turned face as he sat sleeping on the Walmart bench. His ragged, dirty clothes hung loosely so that his size was masked. A hand of fresh bananas laying beside him, someone had taken pity and left the small meal for his discovery whenever he awoke.

Sometimes he'd find refuge and a bit of charity in a local fast food joint or more often he could be found wandering the streets around town. A seemingly gentle soul, our family began to see him here and there on a fairly regular basis in our old hometown.

The local soup kitchen fed hungry residents and visitors throughout the week, but weekends saw their doors closed. At the time, my husband delivered food for a vending company and he often brought home stales (food that was still good, but passed the sell by date.)

We never heard this homeless man beg or even ask for anything, but his poverty was clear. One day, my husband took the time to stop, give the man some food and learn his name was Charles. From then on whenever they crossed paths, my husband would leave Charles with a few leftover meals to fill his empty belly.

Beyond a name, his story remained a mystery, but something about Charles touched our hearts.

I have to admit it wasn't an uncommon occurrence to have panhandlers knocking on our front door. Most times the story they told had been heard before. "My car ran out of gas around the block. My kids are inside. Can you give me money?" Cautiously, I learned to refuse the not infrequent requests.

And there was the time a glassy-eyed woman rang our bell during dinner. She was hungry and it was Saturday so the soup kitchen had no relief to dish out. Stirred by her polite plea, I filled a bag with food and placed it in her hands. She thanked me and descended my porch steps. I watched as she made her way down the block and then flung that bag full of food into someone's bushes and continued on her way.

Those kinds of dishonest cries are enough to cause us to tune out or turn away, but then we risk becoming like the rich man who failed to see Lazarus starving in his doorway. Sure, we need to enlist some level of caution because there can be real danger before us. But we can't excuse ourselves from helping altogether.

Christmas time rolled around and I happened to be shopping in a Catholic book store when Charles came to mind. While I had no way of knowing whether he believed in God or what, in any faith, he proclaimed, a little prayer book caught my attention. St. Joseph's pocket book of prayers seemed the perfect size for a man who spent much of his time on foot.

I bought that book, took it home and wrapped it in my best Christmas paper. Like a prayer, the details felt important as I folded each corner and turned over every edge before taping them together. It had to be beautiful.

Keeping that gift close at hand, we spied Charles walking somberly across an empty parking lot one evening at dusk. Rolling down the window, I called out his name to which he stopped and turned in my direction. Like a child excited to find presents under the tree, I rushed toward him and thrust that gift into his open hands.

Merry Christmas were the only words I uttered and then we parted ways. He headed for the tree line, me for our van, so I have no way of knowing where that gift ended up residing. Maybe it landed in a ditch like that bag of food or perhaps it rested often in the hands of Charles. Regardless it doesn't matter, I saw Christ in Charles and that gift was my attempt to be Christ to him. Beyond a meal to satisfy his physical hunger, I wanted him to feel cherished and important.

As a mother, I've purchased and distributed many gifts throughout the years. Each one represents a little offering of love, but no one ever meant so much as Charles'. In his poverty he had no way of repaying us. In fact we weren't even motivated by words of praise or thanks. Charles was simply like Lazarus in our doorway. We saw his need and his dignity and gave to him what we had out of love.

-----
Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a home schooling mother of eight living children, with six more heavenly ones who intercede. Married to her childhood sweetheart, they make their home in North Carolina where they teach Natural Family Planning, grow a garden, raise two dogs, a cat, a fish, ducks, roosters and a flock of hens (in addition to all those wonderful kids). Tara studied journalism a lifetime ago in college, but now she writes simply for the the glory of God. You can read more of her musings and inspirations on her blog "Blessings In Brelinskyville" (www.http://brelinskyville.blogspot.com/).

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


ę 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Living Faith

International community has done too little in Syria and Iraq, Cardinal Vegli˛ declares Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegli├▓ met with Pope Francis last week. The President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Cardinal Vegli├▓ me to discuss the plight of those fleeing the Islamist violence in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Labor Day: Human Work Has Been Raised to the Grandeur of God Watch

Image of For the Christian, all human work participates in the ongoing work of redemption

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

When God Incarnate entered into our created world, he sanctified humankind and the labor in which men engage in order to shape creation. It is in gazing through the supreme lens of the consummation of God's revelation, the Person of Jesus Christ, that the divine light ... continue reading


Pope: 'God wants us to grow in the ability to come together, forgive each other' Watch

Image of Pope Francis drinks a traditional South American drink called mate offered by the faithful as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, addressing more than 12,000 people that had gathered for the pope's catechesis and blessing, touched upon a common human trait that everyone must strive to overcome. The Pope said that while envy, jealousy and cruelty are human instincts, they are ... continue reading


Why Do We Commemorate the Beheading of John the Baptizer? Watch

Image of The Beheading of John the Baptizer

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We now refer to this Feast as the Passion of John the Baptizer more often than the Beheading of John the Baptizer. However, given the realities we face in this new missionary age of the Church, the actual beheading rushes to the forefront. We are seeing it in our own ... continue reading


How much power do you really have? More than you think!

Image of YCVF continues to deliver quality learning tools to Catholic students.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earlier this year, representatives from Catholic Team Global donated a batch of XO Tablets to a humble Catholic school. Now, Catholic Team Global is preparing to do it again with support from its members and valued readers of Catholic Online. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Challenging the just war theory

Image of The horrors of war persist long after the shooting stops.

By Tony Magliano

Is there such a thing as a just war? Can the massive death and destruction of armed conflict ever be morally justified by followers of the Prince of Peace? For the first disciples of Christ the answer was a resounding "No!"During the first 300 years of Christianity it ... continue reading


St Augustine Teaches Us How to Read the Bible Watch

Image of St. Augustine writing

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, all Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) The Greek means God-breathed. They reveal Jesus Christ and our encounter with Him is the heart of what it means to be a Christian. ... continue reading


Spiritual Childhood and Contemplative Prayer Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise. Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of ... continue reading


How to Avoid Sliding into Pharisee-ism Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest, by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) hangs in the London Museum of Art.  The painting depicts Jesus, standing before the High priest - with His holy hands bound. The Priest, who at the time I thought was a Pharisee, is looking up with an arrogant demeanor and a pointed finger.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

A priest friend once reminded me that not ALL the Pharisees were so blinded by their self-righteousness that they failed to recognize that the One whom they so often sought to correct was God Incarnate. And, of course, he was correct. The Pharisees were a genuine ... continue reading


What every catechist needs but few have

Image of A complete library of books for catechists should feature the USCCB's full collection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you're a catechist, then you're aware of the importance of your role. You provide the core of Catholic education to our youth and adults who are entering the Church. As such, you are familiar with the teachings of the Church and can probably answer most questions ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
97 How I love your Law! I ponder it all day ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2014 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter