There is a homeless gentleman named Sean who I see quite frequently when I go downtown. He usually is somewhere on the Magnificent Mile between the Walgreens and Water Tower Place. I first met Sean with my dear friend, Laura, back in June. Whenever I see Sean, I try to stop by and say hello. I don't always have the ability to do more than that.
A few weeks ago I stopped to say hello to Sean as I do, things were different with him. He seemed beaten down by his life circumstances. His friendly, jovial disposition was gone. What he said that night has stuck with me and really caused me to think about what we are called to do in this life and who we are to be.
Sean told me that he was mad at God. That despite all the prayers he has prayed and all the prayers others have prayed with him and on his behalf, he is still out on the streets. He went on to say that God is not going to do all the work on his/her own of getting him off the streets. God calls upon people to make it happen and carry out his/her work in the world. We are to be God's hands and feet in the world--the ones who do the physical action of trying to make a difference (and not just with homelessness but with all sorts of issues in this world). We are to be co-partners with God to carry out the good works as expressions of our faith.
In the time since Sean shared his hurt and anger with me, I came to realize that we can't rest on feeling good that we said a prayer for those experiencing homelessness, giving money or food occasionally. These are all good actions, but much more is being asked of us. We are being asked to get down and do the messy work of our faith. To reach out to those whom society has cast aside as not being worthy of our time or attention. Most importantly, we are to be co-partners with God and listen for how we can best love our neighbors because God isn't going to do it on his/her own. We have to help.