St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church has been doing a very Orthodox and very Christian thing for years: serving Christ by serving the poor, the naked the hungry (Matt. 25). This is a refreshing change from a Western Christian emphasis on Luther’s “faith alone” justification for individual, self-centered salvation. In the Christian east, salvation is not seen as a one-time event, but a life-long process ongoing daily...a gradual change of heart to become “other”-centered, one as Ebeneezer Scrooge experienced. It is also a “corporate” event; the kingdom of heaven can neither be reached nor imagined without Christ, without our neighbor who bears His image...
A recent saint canonized by the Church, Saint Maria Skobtsova of Paris wrote:
“The way to God lies through love of people. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, nor how many bows and prostrations I made. Instead I shall be asked did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. That is all I shall be asked. About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Savior says ‘I’: ‘I was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison.’ To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need…. I always knew it, but now it has somehow penetrated to my sinews. It fills me with awe.”
Neither Brandon Usry nor the poor are the problem. Rather it is me, the author: what have I done to enter into the suffering of Christ in my neighbor?
In Brookings, we cannot “solve” hunger or homelessness, but we can enter into suffering. One possibility might be to consider the model of Thelma’s Kitchen (www.thelmaskitchen.org) in Kansas City.
Ione Trapp is right that many people in Brookings yell and act out, but they don’t have a mental disorder. I myself have been robbed twice by “normal” people, and I don’t live in vicinity of St. Timothy’s. If I did, I might be safer now and at the Last Judgment.
Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.