Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

10/9/2013 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More Living Faith

5 tips for Catholics to stay positive Watch

Image of Stay positive by following five simple tips (WikiMedia Commons).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Do you - or someone you know - struggle with maintaining a positive attitude? Are people less inclined to spend time with you due to your poor attitude? Are you tired of wallowing in negativity? Try these simple tips to change the course of your life forever! LOS ... continue reading


LISTEN NOW: Benedictine nuns release new album Watch

Image of Nuns record new album to promote faith (Churchpop).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Benedictine nuns in Missouri recently released their latest album <i>Adoration at Ephesus</i> - and it is amazing! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mother Cecilia, the prioress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, told <a ... continue reading


Why are these transparent wires being put up in cities around the world? Watch

Image of Eruv lines are set up in cities around the world to make life easier for Orthodox Jews.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Members of an ultra-conservative religious denomination are stringing transparent wires around many urban neighborhoods, all for religious reasons. These nearly invisible wires form webs in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. What are these wires and ... continue reading


'[D]on't ignore us:' Pope Francis explains the difference between knowledge and real love Watch

Image of Knowing about God is not the same as loving Him (Vanvick/Wordpress).

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

On Wednesday Pope Francis said that just because someone is an expert in God's law and a strict adherent to the rules doesn't necessarily mean they know how to love and serve others. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - "It's not automatic that whoever frequents the ... continue reading


Miracle in the Philippines: Tribe converted to Christianity after hearing Gospel and watching 'Passion of the Christ' Watch

Image of Manobo tribe embraces Jesus (tikbo).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Manobo tribe of the Philippines were taught the Gospel and viewed Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" film, which led several to convert to Christianity. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to missionaries from Christian Aid Mission, nearly the entire ... continue reading


'I just couldn't believe it:' Oklahoma officers seize Christian charity money Watch

Image of Christian rocker stripped of charity money after being accused of engaging in drug activities.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Christian rock band Klo & Kweh was driving through Oklahoma when they were pulled over for a broken headlight. What happened next was a shock that rippled throughout the Christian community. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to <a ... continue reading


Pope Francis decrees instances of miracles and martyrdom Watch

Image of Pope Francis spoke of saints on Tuesday.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

On Tuesday, Pope Francis spoke of several men and women worthy of canonization. He included miracle attributions and stories of martyrdom. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis received a private audience with Cardinal Angelo ... continue reading


Christians deserve equal protection too! - Christian baker case may go to Supreme Court Watch

Image of Christian bakers should not be forced to participate in someone else's sin.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The case of a pair of bakers who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple, may go all the way to the Supreme Court and resolve the apparent infringement of their First and Fourteenth Amendments. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The attorney for Aaron and ... continue reading


Pope Francis writes moving letters to prisoners Watch

Image of Prisoners in Velletri receive letters from the Pope.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Inmates at Italian prison Velletri wrote Pope Francis letters earlier this year - and received personal replies. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, the prisoners gave their letters to Bishop Marcello Semeraro, the Bishop of Albano, during a ... continue reading


3 inspirational reminders of hope for Catholics facing darkness Watch

Image of (Photo by: AJGIEL)

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Tears roll down my face as a sea of blankets threaten to pull me completely under. I fight to stay afloat while the darkness continues to pull me down like a thousand needles hooked to anchors. Terrifying thoughts run rampant through my fragile mind, "what's the point ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Daily Readings for Friday, April 29, 2016
  • St. Catherine of Siena: Saint of the Day for Friday, April 29, 2016
  • LISTEN NOW: Benedictine nuns release new album
  • Daily Reading for Sunday, May 1st, 2016 HD Video
  • 5 tips for Catholics to stay positive
  • A Marriage Blessing Prayer HD Video
  • Why are these transparent wires being put up in cities around the world?

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 15:7-21
7 and after a long discussion, Peter stood up and addressed them. 'My ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:1-2, 2-3, 10
1 Sing a new song to Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!2 ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:9-11
9 I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. Remain in my ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 28th, 2016 Image

St. Peter Chanel
April 28: In St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr (Feast day ... Read More