Bruna’s story

Jesus said unto them, “Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.”-Luke 9:48

Bruna is not to be confused with Bruno. I have written about Bruno in several posts but for the first time I am telling Bruna’s story. They both are about the same age and share the male and female versions of their names. Their similarities end here besides the fact that they are both homeless. Both have very different stories to tell regarding their journey to the streets.

Bruna never had much of a chance. Her mother is a crack addict. Consequently, Bruna was exposed to drugs and crime since the day she was born. This did not stop her from hoping that she would have a decent mother. She really just wanted a mother, but her mother never wanted a daughter. This did not stop Bruna from trying to be one to her. She tried everything within her capacity to please her mother. Nothing seemed to work. Her mother was too broken to notice. It was really a question of identity. Children discover their self-worth through their parents. They are the first ones to give us some meaning for our very existence. Unfortunately, her mother never gave her this assurance. Bruna admits that she always had people willing to look out for her. However, for a little child, it is not the same. She wanted her own mother to love her. Bruna always tried to win her mother’s heart. She wanted her life to mean something for her mother. All her attempts only brought tears for Bruna. Her mother had nothing to give and this is why she was slowly killing herself with crack.

Bruna hardly smiles. She usually keeps to herself and does not interact with people easily. The thing that struck me most was that she remembered Mary’s name almost immediately after our first meeting. She would come to Mary and clearly articulate her name as if to say that I know you by name instead of just a generic anonymous greeting. She would always give Mary a kiss. She shares Mary’s interest in art and she loves to color complex designs and patterns. She shared with us that she discovered her love for art when she was living in a Catholic Orphanage. This was something we never knew about her. She could also recite the rosary in Latin which she learned from the nuns. São Paulo has a world-class art museum that has a permanent collection including those of Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Despite in her interest in art, Bruna had never set foot in this place. This is not uncommon because places as such tend to intimidate our children and teens. They feel too self-conscious to enjoy them. We asked her if she would like to go the museum with us. Her face lit up with a huge smile and she nodded enthusiastically. We set the date and time and when the day arrived, we found Bruna all dressed and ready for our visit together.

When we walked into the museum, Bruna just wandered off on her own and started admiring the different paintings. It appears that all the beauty displayed in this place just consumed all her fears and sense of insecurity. She started gazing at the paintings and savoring the colors and the details of the art pieces. On several occasions we were all drawn to the same pictures. TCriança Morta_1944here was one particular art piece by a Brazilian artist, Candido Portinari that arrested both our attention. The picture depicted the death of a child and the family were in tears and devastated by the tragic event. It conveyed a sentiment so palpable and Bruna and I just stood there absorbed in this sentiment. Pain and suffering unites all humanity. It is something we share in common. Bruna is only twenty and she has experienced more then her fair share of it. Maybe it wasn’t the hardness of life that attracted her to this picture. Maybe it was the family being together despite the tragic circumstances. This togetherness is something she did not even possess.

This was not the only picture that she reflected on. The paintings that held her attention revealed her distinctive taste and perhaps even a little bit about herself. After the museum, we went for ice-cream and we sat at a food court and just talked and ate together. Then we went back to our apartment and she went back to her spot in the streets. We hugged before we said goodbye. She was truly happy to spend the day with us. At least, when we were in the museum, our differences melted away and we were united in the different expressions of the human experience. There was no class or social divisions in the art themselves. There was just a longing for something meaningful.

I wrote the section above about three months ago. I don’t know why I never published it. We did not see Bruna for a while after this little excursion. It is not uncommon. Everything is very fluid in the streets. We might spend a special day or have a intimate connection with a child one day and then we won’t see them for months before our next interaction. We have learned to appreciate each special moment as a gift from God and not expect a constant repetition of it. Such occasions are treasures that we will stay with us for eternity. We shouldn’t get too greedy for these treasures but just receive them as the Holy Spirt gives them to us.

Bruna began eventually to reappear in our lives. Since we are always found sitting at the steps of the Cathedral, she knew exactly where to find us. A couple of days ago, she sat next to us on the steps and asked if she could color. As usual she chose one with a complex design. She is very meticulous. She never repeats colors and chooses them in a way that highlights particular objects in the picture which have impressed her. She sat and colored in silence for almost two hours. When finished, she wanted to work on another piece. Occasionally she would stop to say something but nothing really significant, perhaps a passing thought. She did not need to say anything important. Her presence alone spoke volumes. We found out that her birthday falls on the same day as Mary. We asked what she wanted to do. She had no idea. Birthdays come and go for these children without any significance. It is not surprising that they want nothing special for their birthdays. We convinced her to have coffee and cake with us. She smiled and agreed.

The times we spent with Bruna are quiet and peaceful. She does not say much but she just sits with us. I think this is all she wanted from her mother. She just wanted to be with her. She does not demand anything from us. She has never asked us to help her in any way. She just wants to sit and be with us. Bruna is known for her aggressiveness in the streets. She has to be this way in order to survive. With us, she has the opportunity to be a peaceful young girl who just want to be loved. She wants someone to think that her life matters. All she ever received from her mother was rejection. We hope that she senses that her existence is meaningful to us. I believe she does.

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Necessary Economy

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.-Luke 16:10

Today was not a good day. No one got hurt, sick or was ill-treated. Nothing happened that discouraged us. There just simply no one in the streets. Well, there were lots of homeless adults but not one of our children or teens were in the streets. We sat and waited for them for three hours and no one showed up. I tried to fill our time with reading the Bible and Mary attempted to draw something. We thought that we should do something at least. We wanted to feel like we were not wasting our time. There was an internal pressure within us to make every moment count. However, it did not work. Waiting and doing absolutely nothing made us feel a little restless and aimless. There is no cure for this. We just have to face it head on and deal with it.

It was different yesterday. We wished today was just like yesterday.

The children and teens were waiting for us at the steps when we arrived yesterday. We almost did not even have time to say our customary prayers before work. They were happy and eager to see us. Some of them came to us and asked us to do some activity with them. Ruan whom we haven’t seen for weeks was there and he sat next to us and told us all about his new pet. It was a puppy that someone had given to them. Then Caio came over. We have seen Caio around in the past few days but he is always on the move. He hardly stops to talk. However, yesterday was different. He sat down next to me and just started talking. He had read something about Holy Communion and wanted to talk about it. We asked about Bruno and then almost magically he just showed out of nowhere. He had a bunch of English words that he wanted Mary to translate. There were teens who wanted first aid to be done. Many wanted to tell us something interesting that happened to them. Some had questions about God and life in general. There were so many children and teens wanting our attention that our heads begin to spin in a good way. We felt like we were accomplishing something. It was a good feeling.

Caio asked me to read from John 6 about the sacrament of the Body and Blood. He had read something about the Lord’s supper stating that the Catholics confused the biblical text on John 6. Caio had read that the Holy Communion was really an invention of the Catholic Church. Even though he is from an evangelical background that doesn’t believe in the sacraments, he felt that the Holy Communion was something spiritual and mystical and not a mere doctrinal invention of the church. Together we read John 6:56 from my Bible,

He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him.

He said that whenever he read these words, he felt in his spirit that the communion is something more than a mere ritual or remembrance. He thinks that participating in the Communion somehow connects him with Christ in a real way. The best I could do at this point was to listen to his reflections. He wasn’t asking any questions so I wasn’t expected to give any answers. He wanted me to just listen. He said that he went to a church where the communion was done in a haphazard manner and he did not stay till the end. He felt that it was disrespectful. Whenever he goes to church, he goes for the reverence. He needs this sense of reverence that is lacking in his life. Then he remained silent. I did not try to fill this empty space in our interactions with useless opinions. I sat in silence with him. After a while he smiled and asked if we could play a game.

At this point, Alex walked up to us and told us that an elderly man had fallen and hurt himself badly. We asked what happened. He just said that old people tend to fall and we need to help them. He had tried to console the man but there were too many people around. As he was saying this, an ambulance passed us. It most likely carried the old man within. Bruno was also asking questions about the Bible and faith as well and Mary was trying to answer his questions in between playing a game of Uno. Bruno likes the comfort of playing a game while asking some serious questions. All in all it was a great day. We did not get the chance to speak with all the children and teens and we ended staying longer than we usually do. However, today was different. We might be going home at our usual time.

“Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” An Anglican priest once shared these words of wisdom with me. Maybe it is a quote from someone famous; I don’t know. These words were spoken after he spent his time listening to me. They were his words to my soul. I was sharing a difficult moment in my parish ministry where I felt that I was doing and achieving absolutely nothing. I was doubtful about my ministry and I wasn’t sure if the congregation were benefitting from the things I did. Somewhere his simple words found a permanent home my heart. He encouraged me to focus on the gospel and not to worry if anything I did appeared to be fruitless. The same church where I felt useless is one of the churches where I can truly say that I had a successful ministry. It never grew leaps and bounds but I learned to become one with the church. We started out being worlds apart. It was a rural church in a small city in the Northeast of Brazil where they never had a foreign presence for centuries and I was a full-bred big city foreigner who loves big city culture. Superficially, it looked like a perfect recipe for a disaster. I decided to continue to wait even I felt useless. I learned to trust God to “waste” my time. This was actually the missing element that was needed for us to grow into being One; the willingness to “waste” my time.

Sitting at the steps and waiting is difficult. We feel obligated to be always doing something to justify our existence but God does not need us to do this. He created us. This is alone justifies our existence. We exist because God wants us to be. The salvation of the children and teens is not dependent on us. God loves these little ones and He will reach out to them regardless of whether we are there or not. He does not need us to save these little ones. He gives us the privilege to participate in His work. It is a gift from God for us just sit there and wait like the Good Father sat and waited for His prodigal son to return home. God calls us to wait with him for these children and teens. If we don’t do it, then He will call someone us to do it. God wouldn’t lose anything but we would have lost something precious in our lives. Therefore, it is a good thing to just sit and wait because it is participating in what God does all the time. It is an essential part of being a representative of God’s love.

I still wish everyday was like yesterday. This is just wishful thinking. Besides, I won’t appreciate and value the talks and openness of the children and teens if I don’t have days like today. Waiting and doing absolutely nothing makes me treasure the moments when something happens. The children on their part are happy finding us sitting on the steps waiting just for them. On a different occasion, we overheard Gabriel, one of the younger teens, divulging to another that we had spent hours waiting and looking for them. He was clearly impressed. It means something for people in general when they find someone just waiting and willing to “waste time” doing nothing until they come.

I know that we are going to have more days like yesterday but they are not going to happen without days like today. If we are not willing to wait, then nothing will happen. It is not easy but it is definitely not wasted time. Valuable and precious things happen to those who are willing to wait.

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The Beauty of a Complex Person

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.-Luke 11:34

I have written about Alex before but it has been a long time since I wrote about him. We haven’t had much contact with him these past few months. He is a complex person. He relates to people differently than the rest of the children. He is by no means a conversationalist. It is usually difficult to engage him in an activity with us. In fact, he hardly wants to do anything with us. At the same, he wants to be close to us. Sometimes he won’t even acknowledge our presence but he notices when we are not around. On top of this, he has some learning disability. It takes him a while to process things said to him and his constant abuse of paint thinner makes communication almost impossible. It is very rare that we have any talks with Alex. Since the time that we have known him, we had perhaps three occasions where we had meaningful contact with him. This was day different. He came to us announcing that his birthday was approaching. He wants to go to the Zoological gardens. He did this last year with another group but this time he wants to return there with us. We were honest with him. It wasn’t going to happen because of the logistics. It was too complicated for us to take three public forms of public transport with him to go the Zoo. I am not sure if he was willing to do this as well. The last time he went, the group had a car. Then again, I am not sure if it was really the trip to the Zoo he was after. An important aspect of our relationship with the children is interpreting their requests. I believe that it was an excuse for to talk with us. Alex has a hard time connecting with people. I think that his imminent birthday is just an excuse to talk with us.

After this animated announcement, Alex returned to his usual taciturn self. He sat next to us and was quiet. We sat there for a half hour in silence with him. Initially we tried making small talk but it was too complicated. His thinner-infused mind was not registering anything we said. He stared blankly at us for a few seconds and gave us unrelated answers. Silence was the best option for everyone concerned.

It is our practice to alternate between waiting at the steps of the cathedral and looking for the children at their regular haunts. Since nothing was happening with Alex and it looked like he wanted to be alone, we got ready to do our rounds. Alex looked up and asked why we were leaving. We explained that we were going to see if we could get the rest to come the steps. He said that there was no one around today. We understood what he was saying. He wanted us to stay there with him. He put away his thinner and then start talking about horses. I know it sounds random but this is Alex. The thoughts flow through his mind in some logical sequence that is foreign to most of us. We just are learning to go with the flow and listen to his stories. In a way, I am beginning to understand his logic. He has been thinking about his birthday and this must awakened in him a decision to talk about things that made him happy. Maybe during his silence, he was trying to decipher which happy story to tell us. Finally, it was the story of the horse. It was one of his most pleasant moments and it occurred in a state orphanage. He was given a chance to ride a horse at a small farm. Then he started talking about his childhood which led to the tragic story of his mother’s passing.

Alex was placed in the orphanage on a couple of occasions. The first time was because of neglect. It was much more complex than this. Alex was very sick at home and his mother went to get some medication. Unfortunately she was sickly as well and she fainted in the streets. She was taken to the hospital but they did not know how to get in touch with her family. This usually means that they lived in a makeshift shack that did not have telephone or even a proper address. The children being left by themselves and Alex’s deteriorating health prompted the neighbor to call the police. All the children ended up in the state orphanage until the mother could prove that she was capable of taking of them. She must have tried to be a good mother within her capabilities. She had very limited resources and finally they were forced to move in with their grandmother. The five children and mother were cramped up in a tiny room. This is all they had. There was a common bathroom which they shared with drug dealers and addicts. His mother became sick again and she fainted once more for the last time. Alex sat next to her as she was dying. The ambulance arrived after her corpse was cold. This is his most vivid memory of her. He told us this story several times. It is one of his most treasured memories.

It didn’t take long for Alex and his brother, Alan, to ran away to center. The street where their grandmother lived is one of the most dangerous areas in the center. In his case, being homeless was safer than being at home. It is the same street where some of the other boys like Ruan lived. Perhaps the lack of space and unintentional neglect had affected Alex in the way he interacts with people. However, he shared all this with eyes wide open and occasionally smiling when he had shared something funny. He transformed very before our eyes from closed up little boy into this lively and animated teenager. It was great to see this metamorphosis.

The next day, Alex saw us at the steps and he ran up to us. He placed his bag next to us and sat down by himself for a few minutes. Nothing unusual here. At that moment, a homeless man sitting not too far from us was being sick. Alex was the first to notice and asked us if we could something. We have seen scene many times before and we know enough to say the problem was that the man had too much to drink. We assured Alex that he will be fine. However, seeing the man’s discomfort bothered him, he approached the man and asked him if he was okay. The man was completely out of it and could not appropriately respond. Alex took a bottle of water out of his old worn-out backpack and gave it to the man. He then proceeded to pat him on the back and asked him to drink some water. He stayed with him until he got better. Alex walked back to where we were and sat down and went to being quiet and withdrawn. Mary tried to get Alex’s attention and she told him that he had a good heart. He did not say anything. I am not sure if he understood what she meant. He just sat quietly for a while and then start talking about different things that happened to him on this day. None of it followed a coherent sequence but yet we were able to understand him.

I have been taking the Bible to the streets recently. The children and teens know that I am a priest and they often ask questions about faith and God. I took the Bible out and before I could do anything with it, Alex started yelling out my name. He wanted to see the Bible. He flipped through the pages randomly. He was looking for the word, “John”. He is illiterate but he recognizes some words. I asked him if he was looking something specific. He wanted me to read the story of the Annunciation. I read from the gospel of Luke. He listened intently and then said that he did not understand anything. He wanted me to explain. He wanted to know how God came into the womb of Mary. We talked about the Holy Spirit and how with God all things are possible. His face lit with a smile. He said that he liked this part of the gospel when God became Man to be among us. His face lit with his characteristic smile that revealed a chipped tooth and afterwards he laid down his head to sleep. However, not before asking me if I could read to him another story from the Bible the next day.

There are two episodes from the gospels that Alex finds to be special; the Incarnation and the Passion of Christ, of course I would never use these words when speaking to him. He uses more simple and perhaps more profound phrases to describe them; God walking among us and God suffering with us. Incidentally, I found that the children and teens find it hard to relate to the Resurrection. It is not that they don’t believe it but they don’t understand its relevance to their reality. Maybe this could be our contribution. The resurrection means new beginning. The children take comfort and strength in God’s presence in their daily lives and sufferings but they cannot imagine a new beginning for themselves. Maybe through us, they can discover the words to describe this new reality.

We hardly use words in our relationship with Alex. Our conversations are sporadic and disjointed. Sometimes we feel that we are not getting through to him. This might be true. However, God has placed Alex in our lives. He is now part of our existence. In our storage of happy memories, our conversations with Alex are among them, despite the fact that sometimes we feel a little helpless and useless even when we are with him. Something is happening. It gives great comfort to know that God did not call us to save Alex. This is beyond our capacity. Our Lord did not call us to save people. He opens our eyes to see His Holy Spirit working in the hearts and minds of children and teens. Superficially speaking, Alex is not a friendly boy. It does not mean that he is hostile or bitter. He is neither of these. He is a complex young man and yet we can see the Holy Spirit working in his life. He is extra sensitive to the suffering of others. Mostly likely, he is conscious of goodness that surrounds him. He responds to these things in different ways. Our task is to testify the workings of the Holy Spirit in his life. Not just Alex, there are other children and teens who are moved by the Holy Spirit to do acts of compassion. The world passes by these children and teens and just sees a sad and depressing situation and people. God sends us into the world to proclaim and testify that the power of God’s love shines even when there is utter darkness. The gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Light of the gospel.

Alex has every reason to be bitter and angry. He did not ask to be born into the situation in which he found himself. However, when we spent these few days with him in silence, we did not see a hateful and closed person. We saw a young boy open to doing acts of love and compassion whenever the Holy Spirit prompts him. It is amazing to see that despite all the difficulty and injustice he has suffered, Alex continues to nurture a kind and loving heart.

With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.- Matthew 19:26

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Evangelism according to the Gospel

When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:12-14

These words were spoken in a banquet. The poor, the maimed, and the lame were not included in the guest list and Jesus wasn’t being a good guest. He insulted his host by saying that he only invited those who could return the favor. I am sure that if Jesus was a guest in my house, he would say the exact same thing about me. I have people over for dinner on a weekly basis. We have several friends living in the same neighborhood and we have made it a custom to eat a meal together at least once a week. The food and conversation is always good and edifying and we don’t want to change anything. It is an intimate affair but alas, it also an exclusive one. It is not our intention. It just happens to be such. In the same way, the Pharisee that invited Jesus was not being exclusive intentionally. After all, he invited Jesus. He must have known Jesus’ strong criticism of his sect and yet Jesus was on his guest list. To invite someone into your household is quite a significant gesture. It means that you consider the person as your equal. This Pharisee was definitely one of the better lot. However, for Jesus, being better was not good enough. According to him, we have to be different from the world. He is reinventing the rules for a proper and successful banquet, or at least successful according to the gospel.

Hosting a dinner was more complicated then than today. Then the guests usually travelled miles to make it to a banquet. They were expected to spend at least few days at the host’s house to make the trip worthwhile. It was the responsibility of the host to provide food, shelter and even proper dinner attire for his guests. The people who heard Jesus saying these tough words then would have found it to be more scandalous than us. Today we just have to put up with our guests for a couple of hours. Being a host for a dinner is less stressful and easier in our context but the guest list still remains the same throughout the centuries. We only tend to invite those who are similar to us.

It is not hard to imagine what a dinner party would look like if we invited both our friends and the poorest of the poor. My guess would be that it would be an utter disaster. Being with and among the homeless from Monday to Friday has done enough to eradicate all my romantic illusions of poverty. I can imagine real scenarios; Bruno in his clothes that he has worn for the past few months sitting next to our friend who is a germaphobe, no one saying anything because it would be socially impermissible. The night would be dominated by awkward silence with scattered small talk. It would hardly be a pleasurable evening. I don’t think that it would be a time of relationship building. I doubt that anyone would return for another meal in my house ever, not even the homeless. I don’t believe that this was the scenario that Jesus had in mind. He wasn’t into shocking people for the sake of challenging them. He was into relationship building. The gospel is about building bridges where there was none before. St Paul reiterates this when he wrote:

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.- 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

The point of having a meal together is to reconcile and not create a greater divide. Therefore, we need to go beyond the superficial understanding and grasp what Jesus is challenging us to do.

Personally, we would love for our friends to meet Bruno, Igor, Aline and Felipe and even the unpredictable Ruan. They are interesting teens and young adults and I believe that our friends would enjoy their company. In fact, we talk about them with our friends often at the dinner table. In turn, they often enquire after them and expressed that they were interested in meeting them one day. There is a willingness to include them into our circle of friendship. However, it is our teens and children that are afraid to meet them. They might be comfortable with us but they don’t know our friends. They are afraid that they would not be accepted. Even if we provided the proper attire and made all the attempts to make their appearances more acceptable, their inner person would not feel comfortable enough to engage with any of our friends. They would immediately shut down and not say a word. This has happened before in another circumstance. It is not just a question of opening the doors for the poor, the lame, and the blind but we need to prepare ourselves to receive them. By this, I mean that we need to be like good host and ensure that our guests have everything they need to overcome their insecurities.

When Jesus said that we should invite the poorest of the poor, He is not talking an act of charity. No one then and now does charity work out of their homes. The home is a sacred place. It is place of intimacy and friendship. When we open up our house to people, we are exposing a part of our life. There needs to be trust and confidence. These things come from true friendship. When Jesus challenged us to invite the poorest of the poor to our dinner parties, he was suggesting that we extend our friendship to include these little ones.This perhaps is the part that is the most difficult. It requires a complete change of our mindset. I don’t mean that we do what is commonly known as “friendship evangelism” which is not friendly or evangelism. That is using friendship as a means to an end. Jesus would not approve. He never loved his people so that they would become his disciples. He just loved them. True friendship is unconditional relationship. It is also rare and difficult. This is why we need the Grace of God even in our efforts to become a friend to His little ones. It goes against our common wisdom which teaches us to stay within our familiar social circles.

Being a friend in this sense is a growing process. It does not happen immediately. I am finding it hard to call our time in the street, “a ministry”. I use this word as an communication instrument so that people can understand the foundation of our presence in the streets. However, ‘ministry’ implies that this is work. Work, in turn, reflects a notion of obligation. However, our time with the children and teens is not work for us. It is a moment where we have a genuine spiritual exchange between us. They have became our friends. They have become our children and teens. They do not expect anything from us except our companionship. They share their questions and thoughts with us. They know that we will provide them with spiritual guidance when they need it. Most of the time, they just want us to be with them and the feeling is mutual. Recently we were playing a game with three of the boys on the steps of the cathedral when another older teen passed by and said, “What a beautiful family gathering!”. The statement was quite random but it describes a development in the growth of our relationship perfectly. Nevertheless, we still have miles to go. These teens and children are still not ready to come our house for dinner. One day they will because this is the goal of our evangelism in the streets.

Biblical evangelism is not about changing one’s religion. It is becoming part of a new family. The new creation begins with the creation of new family ties based on the movement of the Holy Spirit. Only God’s Spirit can break the barriers between us and the children in the streets to mold us into one family. However, for the moment, they are still in the streets. They are still separated from our friends who live in another reality. God wants to reconcile these two groups as well. They need to sit at the same table and fellowship as equals. Humanly, this is not possible. Even if we made these two groups to sit together by own cunning efforts, the result would be an artificial fellowship at best. Only God is able to remove the obstacles standing between us. All we need is to be open and willing to have these little ones to become part of our guest lists. I believe that this is the deep meaning of the Lord’s supper. I am grateful that I am part of a tradition where every Sunday, the Lord’s Table is open to everyone who accepts His invitation. At His banquet, all the human and sinful divisions are disintegrated and we become One because of our Heavenly Host. This is the goal of evangelism.

We should only invite our friends to our dinner. The dinner table is a place where trust and honesty must prevail. This is only possible among true friends. Jesus is not asking to invite complete strangers whose behavior might be dangerous or unpredictable. He is recommending that we change the way we choose our friends. They should include the homeless, the poor, and the lame. We need to open our hearts to allow these little ones to become our friends so that one day they will sit at our table and fellowship with us as our true friends. When this happens, the symbolic meaning of the Lord’s Communion will have become a living and practical reality in our lives.

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