The Visible and the Invisible

“The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”- Luke 13:19

We were sitting on the steps of the cathedral. It was still early. It takes a while for the children to find their way to this regular meeting place. A man walked up to the front of the cathedral, waving a well-used bible in his hand, and started preaching at the top of his voice. He is a street preacher from a local pentecostal church. It was hard to make out what he was saying exactly. He fluctuated between frantic screaming to quiet mumbling. I have a feeling that he mumbled through the best bits. Nevertheless he got the attention of many. Some were filming him. Others just stopped and watched his antics for few moments before going back to business. No one actually was listening. The preaching sounded a little erratic and wasn’t creating any real connection with the people. This fact didn’t seem to bother him. Besides us, there were homeless adults and some young ladies watching this scene. The ladies were tourists who had just visited the cathedral. Then, out of the blue, a Roman Catholic priest walked by dressed in his cassock. It seemed like a joke was in progress, all we needed now was a rabbi. The tourists immediately approached the priest. It seems like they had something on their mind and wanted to speak to a religious figure. They chose the priest instead of the preacher. He listened intently to them while in the background the man was shouting something about sin and idolatry. The priest prayed with the tourists and blessed each one with the sign of the Cross on their foreheads. The ladies were visibly pleased and we overheard one of them say that she felt very blessed today. The priest then turned to the people sitting on the steps and reached out and shook the hands of a homeless man. He prayed a short blessing and the man smiled at him appreciatively. He made an effort to do the same for the rest of homeless adults. Finally he made eye contact with us and smiled and did the same for us. After which, he walked quietly back into the church. Meanwhile our solitary pentecostal preacher continued screaming his head off. Everyone eventually lost interest in him and he gave up and left.

Two kinds of Christianity were displayed right before our very eyes. One was very visible and had the attention of many but it did not touch anyone. The priest, even though he was part of the established church, was basically invisible. Hardly anyone noticed his presence except those who were close by but, in a very brief moment, he connected with many.

Visible Christianity is often heard and seen in the world. It is the religion that makes outrageous and embarrassing statements and proclamations. They claim that they are doing everything for the gospel but in reality they are only making themselves visible. They want the world to know that they are a strong and powerful presence. They adopt the methods and standards of the world. Everything becomes a question of strategy and numbers. People are no longer the end but a means to an end. Their end is visibility in the world. This religion has more in common with the spirituality of the Pharisee which Jesus spoke ardently against in the gospels. Jesus criticized them not because they adopted the principles of the world in their spirituality but because they claimed that they had monopoly of true spirituality. This seems to be the attitude of visible Christianity.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.”- Matthew 6:1

Jesus and the apostles did preach in the streets. They did not preach for the sake of preaching or promoting their movement. They preached to connect with people. Jesus did not heal to show that the gospel was true. He healed because He wanted to heal people. He did miracles because He had compassion for the people. He wanted people to understand the true nature of the gospel. For Jesus, it was always about the people. They were His goal. He wanted to connect with them. Nothing He did was to promote His own visibility. He spoke out against such attempts. Satan tempted Jesus with instant visibility in the world. Jesus turned him away. It is not compatible with the gospel. Visible Christianity is a kind of Christianity that is just visible but it doesn’t connect with people. It preaches a different gospel where people are just a means to an end.

“The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed….” Luke 13:19

I used to be a little confused about this reference to a mustard seed. A mustard plant is not a tree but Jesus made it sound like it was. I heard preachers say that this reveals Jesus’ sense of humor. It is a bit of a stretch. A closer look at the verse reveals that Jesus wasn’t talking about mustard plant. He said that that it was like a mustard seed and not a mustard seed. The presence of the Kingdom of God can be so small and quiet that it can be easily overlooked like a mustard seed. However, the potentiality of this small presence or lack of visibility does not hinder it from reaching great heights. The lack of visibility should not concern us because it doesn’t mean that it is not powerful. From Jesus’ perspective, being small is very positive. This concept is contrary to the system of this world. In this world, big always seems to be better because it has visibility. The world operates and understands only one reality; the material reality. The gospel opens the spiritual dimension to us. Unfortunately, Christians are more impressed with the material than the spiritual reality of the gospel. Christians seem to be always more impressed with bigger churches even when they do nothing to promote the reality of the gospel. Small churches are always considered in the negative light. No one speaks highly of a small church because small is synonymous with impotence according worldly standards. This idea is so prevalent and influential that even I believed it at one point. I still battle against it because I live in this world. However, we are not of this world and our Lord is our guide to live according to the principles of the Kingdom of God while functioning in this world. Our Lord Himself never bothered with having a large group of disciples. He avoided large crowds whenever possible. He refused to promote His own visibility even when his own family recommended it (John 7:3). He refused to break bread with those who were influential in the world. He walked and dwelled with those who were invisible in society. He always took the time to be with the people because they were his goal. He sought to build relationship with his disciples. He knew them by name. He knew about them. He knew them. This was only humanly possible in a small group.

The world overlooks the small because it is not focused on relationship. the world want us to achieve goals and results especially when they improve visibility. Small actions are invisible actions as long as the world is concerned and so are not commendable. Sometimes the media spotlights invisible actions in the news and always reduces them to something sentimental and vacuous. They just become nice and sweet stories that bring warmth to our otherwise cold souls. This is not how the Kingdom of God understands small and invisible actions.

The invisible priest did what came naturally to him. He wasn’t trying to draw attention to himself. He wasn’t trying to give visibility to the gospel or the church. He just lived the gospel in a simple way. In our churches and communities, there are tons of Christians who live the gospel in an invisible manner. Sometimes, they are members of churches that promote visible Christianity. They can be elderly women who visit their friends who are lonely. They can be people who always try to help those who are grieving with simple gestures of comfort. The priest prayed for the people around him. He did nothing spectacular. He just did simple things that almost anyone could do, except for the blessing of course if you are from a liturgical tradition. The priest connected with people within his means. This is something all of us can do but not everyone can preach in the streets. The gospel is about connecting us to people and through us, we hope people can see the Eternal Hope in Christ.

The children arrived shortly afterwards. We sat and drew with them. Caio came up after a month of absence and asked to play a game of Uno with me. We sat together and connected with each one. Not many words were spoken but there was a strong connection. If there wasn’t, the children and teens wouldn’t spend hours with us. Someone passing by would not understand what we were doing. They would think that we were wasting our time. It doesn’t matter. We are not doing it for them. We are doing this because it is good and wonderful to be connected with the people God brings to us. The message of the gospel is a message of reconciliation. When we connect with people in genuine way, the power of the gospel is manifested beyond words in the lives of everyone.

The priest in his invisibility has touched not just our hearts, but the hearts of the tourists, as well as some of the homeless who had eyes and ears to see what the Holy Spirit is doing.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”- Rev. 2:29

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Walking in My Shoes

And the blind man cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.”- Luke 18:38-41

Bruno doesn’t have any shoes. He walks barefoot in the streets. His heels are dry and cracked. Perhaps you are wondering why don’t we just buy him a pair of shoes. We have thought about this before, after all; why wouldn’t he want a pair of shoes? Well, he doesn’t. He had a pair of flip-flops and he gave them away to another homeless person. He is perfectly comfortable walking barefooted. He doesn’t like wearing shoes. Maybe it is because he never had shoes growing up.

Bruno was placed in an orphanage at a very young age. His mother could not afford to take care of him. However, Bruno had other siblings but he was the only one who went to the orphanage. He doesn’t recall much of his family. He knows that he has a younger sister whose name is barely remembers. He has mentioned once that he would like to meet her. She would be fourteen now. He has lost all contact with his family. He does not even have any idea where his mother lives. He thinks that she would not recognize him even if she passed him on the street. I told him that this would be impossible. A mother never forgets her son.

From Bruno’s point of view, he was rejected by his family. I am sure that it wasn’t an easy choice for his mother. Poverty and other circumstances drove her to place her son in an orphanage. The other children remained with her. No matter how much we try it is impossible to explain the rejection away. Perhaps Bruno’s way of accepting extreme poverty in his appearance is an attempt to convince himself and others that he does not need material things. He was taken away from his family because of money and if he could live without it, maybe he thinks that people would not reject him. Not matter what his real reasons are, he has learned to organize his world without any need for it. Perhaps if we forced him to wear a pair of shoes, it could just upset his personal world order. Bruno would rather give up our relationship with him than upset his “perfect world”.

Bruno wanted to introduce us to a woman whom he met recently. He only had good things to say about her. When we met her, we could see why. She was a kind and generous person. They had crossed paths when he was begging outside a restaurant where she had lunch. She gave him a generous gift. It was a large offering which left Bruno amazed. She saw something in him and wanted to take the extra step to help him. She offered to put him up in a hostel where he could get cleaned and groomed. She was going to help him get his documents sorted out. As she is an owner of a successful circus, she wanted Bruno to work there. She told us that she grew up in a circus and it was very much like an open family. She was sure that Bruno would adapt well there. The problem is that Bruno was not part of this conversation. He just smiled and nodded agreeably to whatever she said. He made a comment that he never imagined living or working in a circus before. Before anyone could saying anything, she was already making all the necessary phone calls. At no point, Bruno disagreed with her but he did not agree to anything as well. The lady was kind and generous but she did not know Bruno. She assumed what she knew what Bruno needed. This is a dangerous assumption.

I don’t need to be a prophet to foretell the future in this case. This woman was going to disappointed that Bruno completely disregarded all her efforts to help him. She might come to think negatively of him. She might even say that he is an ungrateful young man and perhaps lazy. None of this would be true of Bruno but one would need to know him to understand why he refuses any help. The problem is not with Bruno or the woman. It is the way we approach people. We have a tendency to assume that we know what the neighbor needs. Jesus never did this unless He had a personal insight into the person’s life. Just because Bruno begs for his food does not mean that he is going to jump at every opportunity of a job. We must not assume that the homeless are sitting around waiting for one of us to give them an opportunity. The truth us that they have learned to survive in their situation. Bruno was organized his life to survive in this world. He believes it to be secure and stable and he is not going to give this up just because we offer a nice job and promise of a good life. These promises do not mean anything to him. He would prefer to hold on to reality that he is familiar with than give up everything for a possibility with no guarantees. If someone came to us right now where we are in life and made us an offer of a better life and we have to give up everything we have known to be our security in order to attain it, would we do it ?

Perhaps, some would say that if we were in Bruno’s shoes, we would take the opportunity. This is the problem. It is impossible for anyone to walk in Bruno’s shoes. They only fit him. His pains and joys, which have helped him formulate his worldview according to his personality and temperament, belong to him alone. He is an individual being and we are individual beings. Even if I spend a year living in the streets as a homeless person, I will never be able to think and act like Bruno. The best that I could do is to think like Stephen pretending to be homeless. When I assume what is good for someone like Bruno, I imagine myself to be Bruno and then think of things that I would want. Again, it is what Stephen wants and not what Bruno believes to be important. It is impossible for me to know what Bruno needs and wants to make his world better. Only he alone can tell these things. When Jesus, in the quoted text above, saw a blind man crying out for mercy. Jesus did not assume anything. He did not assume that he wanted to see. He respected the man and asked him what he wanted.

Asking someone what they want or need is an important question that opens the door into the life of the person whom we want to help. We judge the needs of the people by appearances. This is not an edifying approach because it simplifies everything. People are more complex than their basic needs. Bruno has been judged unfairly by his appearance his whole life. If we want to build a lasting relationship with anyone whom we are called to serve, then we have to follow the example of Jesus. We have to allow the people to share their needs with us. It may not be what we think of as priority but we must be careful that in our attempt to help someone that we do not dehumanize them further. Every human being has developed their own system of survival and we need to respect it. It is something that they have constructed based on their personal experiences. Jesus did not impose His godly ways on people. He gave them the freedom to allow Him into their lives as they were comfortable and ready. He never asked the old woman whose ailment he healed to become his disciple. He just healed her and let her carry on with her life. I am sure that she was transformed by the incident but she needed time to reorganize her world to truly understand what Jesus had done.

We spoke to Bruno a few days later. He said that he stopped going to the place where he met this lady. He said that he was afraid that she would force him to do something that he wasn’t ready to do yet. He did not want her to think that he was lazy or did want any help. He was just not ready to give up everything that he has known as his security and freedom to live in a circus. We encouraged him to be honest with the woman. I said that the most responsible thing to do was to go back and explain to her that the timing was not right for him to leave everything behind but he really appreciated her help. He seemed to like this idea. To my surprise, he immediately stood up and decided to go back to the place where he met her and be honest with her. It had been bothering him for some time. I said a little prayer and hoped that she would understand his position.

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A Conversation with Wellington

So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”-Luke 19:4-8

I was sitting on the Cathedral steps waiting for the children when Wellington sneaked up from behind and startled me. He had a good laugh and then asked about Mary. She had to stay at home to get some work done in our apartment. Without missing a beat, Wellington was anxious to show the sum of money he earned during the week. He worked in a construction project but he quit after a week. I asked if there were vacancy for this job. I was thinking about Igor and Mateus. He thought that the work was demanding and dangerous. He said that he wouldn’t recommend it to his worst enemy. I asked him what he was going to do with all the money he had earned. He wanted to take the other children to MacDonald’s and keep the rest to rent a room in a hostel. He had enough for a week. However, the first thing after he received his paycheck was to stop by the first church on his way to leave a donation in the offering box. I was a little surprised. I asked him why he did this. He said that he wanted to be connected to God. He said perhaps this little contribution would help him to take another step towards Baptism one day. He would like to be a Christian but he feels that he is not ready yet. He never had a religious upbringing but his parents were superstitious. They never went to church or observed any religious festivals. He started going to church on his own when he was a young boy. He always liked being in a church. He added that he liked talking with us because we help him feel connected to him to God. Needless to say, I was encouraged by this and it boosted my ego.

His name is actually spelled “Uelington” which is how “Wellington” is pronounced in Portuguese. His parents were illiterate. They did not know how to spell his name and the person at the registry wrote down his name the way it sounded. Unlike most of our children, Wellington was born in a rural setting. Beside this, he also had a very strong relationship with his father. Many of the children have never seen their fathers whereas Wellington adored his father. He worked with him when he was a young boy and he always did everything to be close to him. His mother, unfortunately, was an alcoholic. He never had any strong affection for her. He speaks of her with disdain. His world eventually collapsed when his father suddenly died. He was forced to deal with his mother and other siblings who have followed the footsteps of her alcoholism. He never suffered physical abuse although he thinks it would have been better if he did. It was the unkind words proffered against him by his mother that have scarred his soul till today. He left his little rural town when he was barely thirteen and went to a city as far away as possible from his mother. This was the last time he saw her and he is twenty-two now.

It is rare that we have a serious conversation with Wellington. He is jovial person and often uses humor to hide his true nature. Today was different. He was ready for a conversation. Wellington shared that he was there on the night when a mentally-ill person poured gasoline on me and tried to set me on fire. He actually pushed her away when she tried for the second time to light her lighter. I was in a such a state of confusion that I did not notice his presence there. He said he was amazed that the whole event did not change the way we work with them. He attributed this to faith. He also said that the woman had recently died and I was still well and alive. I stopped him before he could say that it was retribution. I wanted him to know that things don’t work this way. It was sad that this woman had met a tragic end. She had suffered her whole life with mental illness and hopefully she is at peace now.

I told him that I don’t why the lighter did not work at the moment. If she had successfuly set me on fire, it would not have changed anything about God or our faith in Him. Nevertheless, I was glad and grateful to be alive. Wellington asked if I believed that God protected me from a premature death. I told him that some would answer say, “Yes!” without any hesitation. However, it is not an easy question to answer. The very night of the incident, I read some news about a young college student in the States who experienced the exact same thing as I did but she died. Her family and friends described her as a kind and gentle person. Her family might ask why God did not save her? We have no answer for the family. We can ask why God did not spare His Son from the Cross. There can never be an adequate answer. Perhaps the question is wrong. God came to be with us. He wants to show us something more profound and mysterious of life. It is not about getting him to do things we want or desire. I desire that everyone I love would be safe all the time but God did not come to this world to do this. He is Emmanuel, God with us.

All I can say confidently is that God was with me at the moment and He was with the girl in the States. The outcome is different from both of us. We need faith to process what God is doing in each person’s situation. In my case, God wanted me to return to the streets the next day. I believe that having faith does not mean that God is going to do exactly what we want. It is just knowing that God is going to be with us and He will give us the strength to rise above each situation.

Thankfully the conversation did not end there. Wellington went on to share his favorite story from the gospel. It is the one quoted above about Zacchaeus. He said in the story everyone was gathering around Jesus. They had expectations of him. They heard that he did miracles and healing. They wanted to experience these things. Zacchaeus was despised by society and naturally he did not expect Jesus to treat him any different. Perhaps he was the only one in the crowd who did not have any ulterior motive. He just wanted to see the person of Jesus. There was no expectation on his part, except the joy of seeing the Messiah. Jesus did not perform any miracles or healing in Zacchaeus’ home but He just dined with him. The result was a transformed life. Wellington went on to say that he wants to have the attitude of Zacchaeus. He confessed that whenever he prays in church he wants God to do things for him but at the same he just really wants to see God’s presence in His life. He does not need God to answer his prayers at all, as long as he knows that God is present.

I sat there and listened to Wellington profess these beautiful words. He has said something that suffices for the moment. He defined what it means to have a relationship with a personal God. It is an unconditional relationship. He is not a personal God when He does things for us. He is a personal God because He is present in our lives. Wellington wants to be like Zacchaeus because he wants a genuine transformation like the one the tax collector experienced. I believe that it will happen one day. For now, I am glad that I had this enriching conversation with him.

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From Them to Us

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. -Philippians 2:5-8

There were boxes everywhere. Our one-bedroom apartment looked even smaller than before and at the same time we were amazed how much stuff we managed to pack away in this tiny space. We were far from finished and would move in two days. Our new home is a two bedroom apartment within the same neighborhood. The past few days we have been walking back and forth making sure that everything was ready for our big move. Consequently, our visits with the children have been less frequent. We were anxious to return our normal schedule. We miss giving our fullest attention to our children. There is a sense of emptiness in our souls whenever we are away from them.

I was also a little concerned for Igor. Ever since his departure from the streets, he has been living in a neighborhood about two hours away from where we are located. He has maintained contact with us through infrequent visits to our home. Now, we had no way of letting him know our change of address. We definitely did not want to lose our connection with Igor. Unfortunately, all the preparation for the move left us exhausted and we did not have the energy to find ways of getting in touch with Igor. After packing and organizing for hours, we were ready for a quiet and restful night. Then the buzzer rang and Igor was downstairs.

He was not alone. There was a young man with him. Both of the were dressed in a suit and dress shirt. Igor did not look anything like the person in the streets three years ago. Igor’s friend, Mateus, was covered with tattoos which his long-sleeve shirt wasn’t able to hide completely. Some of them were gang-related. His face looked familiar but at first instance I wasn’t able to recollect where I have met him. The boys navigated through the boxes to find a place to sit. Mateus, noticing our accents, started asking a barrage of questions about us and our background. He was like a little child with his sense of wonder. Then it hit me. I had seen him in one of my visits to the juvenile reform center. We had never spoken before but I remembered on that occasion he smiled longingly at us hoping to have some sort of connection. The juvenile centers have strict rules. We are only allowed to have interactions with the one we were visiting. For some reason, Mateus caught my attention then. I don’t know exactly why but his face and demeanor stayed with me. I remember commenting to Mary that this young man had all the outward expressions of a hardened criminal but his eyes and gestures revealed that his innocence was intact. He was detained for trafficking drugs but, despite his criminal involvement, his soul was not tainted or closed to God. It was this same characteristic trait that triggered my memory. When I told him that remembered him from that singular visit to the juvenile center, his face lit up. This was about more than two years ago. It was clear to see that he was happy that he left an impression in me. Mateus was incarcerated till he turned 19. He is 21 now. He wants to experience a different life. This was why they were in my living room.

It was joyful and heartbreaking to listen to these two young men. They had spent past few days looking for work. They were desperate and willing to do anything. They were open to be cleaners, road sweepers, construction workers…anything. They are living together with Mateus’ brother. Like Mateus, he was also once involved in the drug trade but he wants to change his lifestyle. Their present goal is very simple. They want to earn enough to pay for food and shelter. They are attending a church in their neighborhood. They have made their new-found faith as the foundation and strength for them to take a bold step towards change. They were in my apartment to ask for our assistance. They wanted to know if we knew someone who would give them a job. These boys have never had a job before. They did not where or how to start. They never had any adults in their lives to help them.

Things are extremely hard now. The economy has been stagnant for years. Besides, it has never been easy for the poorest of the poor. Steady employment among the poor is a dream that a few are able to realize. Most survive by doing odd jobs here and there. The pay is miserable but many are able to survive on it. It is going to be challenge for them to find something stable. Unfortunately, I did not have any contacts. Even if we did, there is no guarantee that it would ensure them any employment. They don’t have any skills yet. They are open and willing to do some training. This might be helpful for the future but for now they need income for the basics. There were no easy answers for them. The only thing that we could offer them was to walk with them and help them think about planning their goals to achieve the things they want. I felt that this offer was weak and deficient in the face of their struggles. We said a short prayer together.

I expected these two earnest young men to be little disappointed. They needed some concrete help and we had nothing to offer them. I was feeling disappointed and a little inadequate myself. Then Mateus surprised us. He said that they were grateful that we treated them as equals. Initially I was a little confused by this statement. These young men are facing eviction from a tiny shack in a slum. They don’t have any money for food. They are no idea whether they might find a job soon. We, on the other hand, are moving to a bigger apartment. We have more things than we need in our living room packed in boxes. Materially speaking, we are better off than them. However, Mateus and Igor were able to overlook the material and financial differences between us and discover equality with us. Our relationship made the transition from “we” and “them” to “us”.

They came looking for us to help them find employment. Our vulnerability or lack of ability to fulfill this role helped us become one with them. They saw that we were not some superheroes that solve problems at the drop of a hat. We were just as limited in what we can do just as they were. They had spent the whole day looking for work and being rejected by every business that they approached. Feelings of inferiority must have been rampant in their souls. Sitting in the living room and listening to us say that we have no power to solve their problem helped them in some way regain their humanity. Sometimes we think that we have to solve all the problems of those who come to us for help. However, not being able to do anything can also be helpful and powerful. We did not have the resources to help them but we wanted to be with them. They wanted to come to a place where they can feel like human beings with dignity. Unbeknownst to us, being in our home has helped them regain their dignity as human beings. This is not just our interpretation. Igor clarified this to us. He told us that when we opened our home to him for the first time, he felt that we made a special transition in our relationship. It was no longer a relationship of “We” and “Them” but we are now “us”. Being unable to supply all the answers in a strange way helped us see this even clearer.

Jesus emptied Himself of all Godhood so that He could become a servant. For some pragmatic minds, it would have been more advantageous if Jesus came to us with all His divine power and solved the problems of the world. The gospels tell us that multitudes followed Jesus to see and experience some of his supernatural feats. Many believed in Jesus so that they could have access to some divine power in their lives. Jesus did heal and perform miracles. I believe that the miracles of Jesus were not an essential element of his ministry. I know that some may disagree with me here and this is fine. We don’t have agree on everything. The miracles are not the gospel. Jesus is the gospel. He came to make the transition from “We” and “God” to “God with us”. The good news is God become One with us. The moment when this happened in its fullness was at the Cross. Jesus chose to be vulnerable like us. He chose to be like those who suffer indignity and endure humiliation to the point where they doubt their humanity. Jesus chose to forego His right as God in order to identify with these people. For them, Jesus who is One with Them brings much more consolation than Jesus the super-hero who overcomes all His enemies with the sword. This participation in the vulnerability and suffering of humanity brought back dignity and hope to those who face this on a daily basis.

If we had endless resources, perhaps we could give Igor and Mateus a job. There is no guarantee that the work we might be able to provide for them would bring joy and hope to them. It would not necessarily restore any dignity to them. Perhaps it could even be an obstacle between us and them. Most likely they would not consider us as one with them. Instead, they would think of us those people who could have everything at a snap of our fingers. Thanks be to God that He did not give us these resources. Instead, we have the resources to be their friend and family in their struggles. They just wanted to be in a place where they could feel like valued people. God has given us the resource for this. This is the gospel where God becomes One with Us. St Paul tells us that we should follow in the footsteps of this God and Savior.

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