Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

10/9/2013 (11 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 (11 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by Islamic State Watch

Image of There was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 by Turk Mehmet Ali Agca. That Pope later forgave his attacker.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by ISIL'Band of criminals' could have Pope Francis in its sights prior to his visits to Albania, TurkeyCatholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See warns that there are credible threats against ... continue reading


Patriarchs ask faithful to help 'save Christianity in the Middle East' Watch

Image of Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan prayed during an ecumenical service in Washington last week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the region. "Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian ... continue reading


With just six months to live, news anchorman finds comfort with God Watch

Image of Dave Benton announced on his Illinois show that he had only six months left to live after a long battle with brain cancer.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Illinois news anchorman with Champaign WCIA-TV shared heartbreaking news with his viewers on September 11, revealing that after a lengthy battle with cancer, he had only six months to live. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 51-year-old anchorman, Dave ... continue reading


Did a Catholic Online candle contribute to a miracle? Here's a yes!

Image of Did a prayer candle have a role in a recent miracle?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online has received many comments thanking us for sharing the prayers of the faithful. Catholic Online has a vibrant prayer community and we are happy to report another miracle. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mika T.* sent an email to Catholic Online ... continue reading


Pope Francis denounces ongoing global conflict as 'piecemeal' World War III Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has often condemned the concept of war in God's name, said it would be legitimate for the international community to use force to stop

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his visit to the Redipuglia monument, the resting place of 1000,000 Italian soldiers killed during World War I, Pope Francis condemned ongoing conflicts across the globe. "Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep. Even today, after the second ... continue reading


Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Watch

Image of Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

By Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas,Ph.D., S.T.D.

Every cross borne by any believer in history gains meaning and becomes life-giving when it is brought into a relationship with the Cross, the Cross from which Jesus reigned as the King of Love and over which He triumphed in His glorious Resurrection.  The ... continue reading


Two U.S. priests appointed by Pope Francis to address clergy sexual abuse Watch

Image of Father Oliver had previously served as a judge and promoter of justice in Boston tribunals and as a consultant to the Boston archdiocesan review board.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Addressing the sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has appointed two U.S. priests to top positions at the Vatican. Father Robert W. Oliver, from Boston and Jesuit Father Robert J Geisinger, a member of the Chicago-Detroit ... continue reading


The truth about climate change

Image of Pope Benedict is known as the 'Green Pope' because of statements he has made on the environment. Pope Francis is also said to be working on an encyclical about the environment.

By Tony Magliano

"Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change .  loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the ... continue reading


Cardinal George compares forcing of sexual agenda to Sharia law Watch

Image of Cardinal George compared American culture and government to Sharia law in the way it treats mainstream Christians.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal George has criticized the imposition of a "public creed" to force acceptance of sexual depravity across the nation, enforced with the power of law. Cardinal George compared the forcing to Sharia law in some countries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Head ... continue reading


Jesus Spent the Night In Prayer. Maybe We Should Follow His Example Watch

Image of Prayer is the most effective form of action for a Christian.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

What jumped off the page as I proclaimed the Gospel is the importance and priority of prayer. Before Jesus made this historic and eternal decision he spent the entire night in prayer. I know that in His Sacred humanity he shows us the pattern for our own lives. ... 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 12:31--13:13
31 Set your mind on the higher gifts. And now I am ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:2-3, 4-5, 12, 22
2 Give thanks to Yahweh on the lyre, play for him on ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 7:31-35
31 'What comparison, then, can I find for the people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 17th, 2014 Image

St. Robert Bellarmine
September 17: Born at Montepulciano, Italy, October 4, 1542, St. Robert ... 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