I know a guy who is quite involved with a drop-in centre in downtown Owen Sound. Recently he found himself embroiled in an argument with a neighbour of the centre. The neighbour, a Torontonian, having purchased the property next door and
possibly unhappy with the neighbouring clientele, was not in a good mood. This guy I know kept calm and cool (on the outside), despite the berating he received.
“You are nobody,” the man shouted. “You have nothing, you own nothing, you are a loser!” He clearly hoped to incite a violent response, but my friend would not fall into his trap. It was, in fact, an opportunity to demonstrate to those who attend the centre, a non-violent response to conflict. When he told me about this incident later, he nearly shook with the memory of it, but I know he felt proud too – not for how he handled the situation, but for an entirely different reason.
When this guy goes down to the drop-in centre, he does not stand out, not in his attire, nor in his speech. He becomes as those he serves and they love that about him. Actually, more than half the people he meets there haven’t a clue he’s the chairman of the board of directors – he’s just one of the guys, which is obviously what the angry new neighbour thought…and that pleased my friend to no end.
We read in the gospel that we should not draw attention to ourselves…when we fast, when we pray…and how about when we serve others? I marvel at this man and how he lives his faith. He does it far better than I, but the good news is - with open eyes, minds and hearts, we can learn from each other, growing closer to God in the process.