The Joy of Being An Unworthy Servant

“Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”- Luke 17:7-10

These are tough words for a modern world.

Just listening to the words, “unworthy servant” and “duty” sounds oppressive and manipulative. It sounds like a recipe for disaster. It is enough to send anyone running away from Jesus and Christianity. Once again, the gospel proves itself that it is serious about the Truth. If it wasn’t, these verses wouldn’t be it. There is nothing apparently positive and joyous to say about these verses. However, it is still the gospel. The good news still embedded in these tough words. We cannot just ignore and discard them. They have something powerful to say to us. Perhaps even more so in this modern culture in which we find ourselves.

We live in a world that is starving for compliments. They represent recognition and honor to us. However, we don’t like it when others receive them instead of us. It seems to provoke feelings of jealousy in most of us. I remember song in the eighties by a British musician, Morrissey, called, “We hate it when our friends become successful.” It might as well be the secret anthem of many people like myself in our private thoughts. I am not sure if compliments and recognition create unity but I am sure that they generate a spirit of competition within us. Maybe this is their purpose in this world. They exploit the weaknesses of people and make them work harder against each other.

The words of Jesus are meant to liberate us from the world of competitiveness where we must try to prove ourselves better than others. They help us to see the Truth about ourselves. We are “unworthy servants”. It sounds harsh but the Truth is grounded in Love and meant to liberate us from lies. It is a lie that we can prove our worth because we are unworthy. However, this doesn’t hinder God from choosing us to be His servants.

Every Thursday, there is a kind and devout man who goes to the cathedral for the afternoon mass. He comes up to us without fail and shakes our hands and tells us what a wonderful work we are doing in the streets. Most of the time, he does this in the presence of our children. We usually feel a little awkward and embarrassed mainly because we know in our hearts that we don’t deserve his compliments. There is something wonderful happening in our midst. However, there is nothing that we can honestly take credit for. It was God who made this into a reality for us. This is God’s project that He has allowed us to participate in. We could not have even said, “Yes” to God if it wasn’t for His grace. We are here because of His grace. The so-called success of our time in the street does not depend on us alone. It also depends on the children and teens. They make the choice to spend time with us. We cannot be there doing anything worthwhile if there is no one to participate in our activities. The children and teens are just as gracious and generous with their time as we are. One can argue that we chose to be there instead of being elsewhere. The children chose to be there with us too. They could be doing other things with other people. Instead they chose to be with us. Behind all our choices is our Heavenly Father who bestows upon us all good things. Therefore, none of us deserve any compliment for doing something that is beyond our control.

At this point, I would like to do something that I don’t usually do. I am going to tell how not to read this post. Please don’t confuse it as a thinly disguised testament of humility. It is anything but this. It is a reflection on the text above. I found much joy and peace in knowing that we are just unworthy servants doing something which is beyond our capacity and yet, we are given the privilege to be part of this. It is this joy that I would like to share. Actually, it is not just for us but everyone who wants to live their lives as a testimony to the gospel. It is a joy to know that we are all unworthy of serving God and yet God still include us in His ultimate project in this world.

One of the joyous things of knowing that we are unworthy servants is that the burden of success or failure is not dependent on us. First of all, there is nothing to gauge success in this world. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. Therefore, there is nothing in this world that can be remotely compared to His standards. Our present ideas of success are based on principles of the reality. There are no possible graphs and charts that we can conjure up to determine what the Holy Spirit considers as success. The change and modification in our personal attitudes towards our neighbors is the essence of the fruits of the Spirit. Those who try measure the performance of their ministry through the means of this world have failed in the Kingdom of God. Even though they might prove themselves to be successful in the world, they have allowed worldly standards to contaminate their calling. All because they think in their hearts that it is necessary to show that they are worthy servants of God. In reality, no one is worthy and this is why we are in constant need of His grace. There is freedom that comes with this awareness. We are liberated to serve willingly and joyfully even when nothing apparently happens because our self-worth is not based on results. It is based on the privilege of being part of God’s actions in this world.

In this world, everything is geared towards reward. According to Jesus, there is no reward for the unworthy servant. The servant shouldn’t expect one. No rewards means no competitive spirit. This does not mean that there is not a goal. To the contrary, the goal is quite perfectly clear; it is to be a faithful servant. When we do this, we will discover that no reward is necessary. Service in itself is sufficient. I know a friend who has been a priest for many years. He never considered himself a charismatic leader or successful pastor of a large congregation. He was faithful in visiting the sick and widows. He was always available when someone needed spiritual guidance. He did exactly what a priest is supposed to do. Whenever he left a congregation to serve another, he always left people in tears. They did not want to lose the pastor that helped them see Christ clearly in their lives. This very pastor once told me that doing the right thing is reward in itself. I will never forget these words because they are God’s words to me. I have found them to be a living reality as we participate in God’s project here. For Mary and I, the reward is being on the steps of the cathedral and waiting for the children and teens. Knowing these children and learning to discern God’s presence in their lives makes life splendid and beautiful for us. We believe that this awareness is mutual. The children seem to enjoy being with us too. This is because we are all where God wants us to be. This is the reward. Being exactly in the place where God wants us to be. Willing to be God’s unworthy servants is enough. God will make the rest happen. I believe that there are countless number of people that will testify to this Truth.

This seemingly heartless and tough saying of Jesus is actually a most powerful and liberating Truth for us today. The desire for recognition and honor has left many tired and depressed in this world. People are forced to prove their self-worth and end up losing their dignity in the process. Knowing that we are unworthy servants of God has the opposite effect because our unworthiness doesn’t stop God from including us in His service. The only possible reason for this is Love. It gives God great pleasure to include His children in the things that He is doing. We don’t deserve this and there is nothing we can do that would prove our worth for the task. God just wants to give us the privilege to be part of the things He is doing. He wants us to share in the good things He is doing in this world like a father who wants to share special moments with his children. He will give us the grace and strength for us to fulfill our duty. However, we should never confuse His grace with our own personal merit. There is no room for meritocracy in the Kingdom of God. There are just room for unworthy but faithful servants.

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Small Dog Licking His Wounds

Jesus said, “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham.- Luke16:19-21

The dogs made it into the parable. It’s funny that Jesus included them. They appear to be irrelevant to the story. I haven’t heard a sermon preached about them. Nevertheless, they caught my attention. It is hard to be among the homeless and not notice the dogs. It makes sense that Jesus included them in this parable.

Dogs in the Jesus’ period were considered to be nuisances. They were just a little better than rats. They were definitely not man’s best friend. They were despised animals and taught to fear human presence. Yet, they had no fear of Lazarus. They knew him. They were aware of his sufferings. They brought comfort to him in their own limited way. The rich man was not aware of Lazarus. This does not make him an evil man. Jesus never said this about him. He was just ignorant of Lazarus. He was too consumed in his wealth to notice the beggar’s condition. However, the dogs did.
Every day, we walk by the hundreds of Lazarus that beg and sleep in the streets. They have his wounds and sores. There are even dogs that lick their wounds. At the steps of the cathedral, there is a mutt named Billy. He belongs to no one but all the homeless including the children love him. They want him to be their pet. He is an independent spirit. He does his rounds everyday and licks and comforts the spiritual wounds of those who suffer. He growls at anyone who is not a homeless person. He only knows those who are abandoned and rejected. He has come to know us now. He comes and greets us whenever we sit at the steps of the cathedral. I think the key to understanding this parable lies in Billy the mutt.

“Friend to the martyr, a friend to the woman of shame,
You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name”- Bob Dylan, from the song,“Jokerman”

This parable is not about rich and the poor. It just tells of the contrast between two different people. The social divide is not a new thing. It has always been there and will always be. Jesus said nothing about the social injustice. He did not work concepts like social systems. He worked with individuals. There were two individuals in extremely different circumstances. This is the reality. The rich man did not do anything to cause Lazarus’ pain, but he could have done something to relieve it. It was within his power. Alas, he was too occupied having a good time with his wealth. He must have believed that he was blessed unlike Lazarus who only had dogs for companionship. Maybe he did not help Lazarus because he did not know what could be done for him. It is easy for us to criticize this man as an outsider. However, most of us have money to give to the person who begs around the corner or at the highway junction. Most of us try not to make eye contact and pretend we don’y see him. It is not because we are heartless. We just don’t know how to help in a meaningful way. The dogs did not think too much about it. They just did what they knew. Lazarus’ wounds needed to be tended. They did it. We can perhaps look beyond the money and try to discover the wounds of those who have been reduced to this desperate state. Maybe then, we can offer something more meaningful than food and money.

Alex came up to us one day at the steps of cathedral and showed us that he had gotten fifty dollars from begging. On top of that, someone had bought him a takeaway lunch and a bag full of cookies and chocolates for snacks afterwards. He was truly pleased. Then he sat there for a good fifteen minutes watching all the people going in and out of the cathedral. He decided that he was going to beg from the people. He asked for almost anything. If he saw someone chewing gum, he would ask for some. If someone was drinking a can of soda, he would ask for the rest. It was comical and yet quite revealing to us. He was begging even though he had no reason to do it. He had more than enough money for the day. Yet something was motivating him to beg. Alex is not a greedy person. He is actually quite generous. He always shares what he receives with the other children and teens. He was begging for a different reason. He was very selective. He wanted things from specific people and when they gave him what he wanted, he looked almost sad. He wanted certain people to notice him. He was begging not for monetary gain but for emotional recognition. His sad and disappointed look was because his only connection with these people ended after he received what he had asked for. Maybe he does not even realize this himself. He never asked anything from us. He knows that he has a connection with us. The other children and teens do activities with us because they know that these are symbolic gestures to show that there is a real connection between us. Begging is not just monetary. It is a plea for some human contact. It is the last and desperate attempt to reach out to humanity.

One of the saddest things for the homeless is to be invisible. Many people ignore them. Not because they are bad or unkind. They don’t how to deal with them. The homeless do many things to avoid being invisible. We have seen the homeless do weird dance routines and sing out of tune just to get some attention. We have noticed that the ones that smell the worse are the ones who are most introverted homeless people. Their dirty and pungent smell is not just a lack of hygiene. It is also their only attempt to be noticed in this world. They would do anything not to be ignored. Unfortunately, it is these very actions that sometimes keep people away from them.

Lazarus must have not been a pleasant sight. He was covered with sores in the hot desert environment. It would have been easier to ignore him than to try to do something. It is understandable why one would want to do this. However, it is not justifiable. Ignorance is not an accepted excuse. Perhaps the rich man should paid attention to the dogs. They did not have much to offer but they gave Lazarus what they could.

Lazarus was not upset that the rich man was rich. He did not think that his predicament was due to unfair social structures. All he wanted was to be satisfied with the crumbs from the table. He deserved more than this for sure but he would have been so happy with so little. The rich man had the possibility to do something good. Unfortunately, he wasn’t aware of Lazarus’ existence. He was too busy enjoying the fruits of his wealth. In the end, he only had the poverty of his soul to show for throughout eternity.

As I am writing this post, I remembered meeting a young man who used to be in square with the children and teens. He was a homeless child at one point as well. He just moved to my neighborhood recently. He is sleeping on the streets with a group of homeless adults. Incidentally, we took notice of him because he was a tough looking guy who had a poodle mutt as a pet. He found it abandoned and they were inseparable ever since. Unfortunately, the dog is gone and he is alone and sad. He saw us the other day and asked us to visit him. He said that we were like street parents to him. He did not want money from us. He just wants our time. He said that he was lonely. He is our Lazarus. We have to visit him. We walk thirty minutes to be with the other children and teens and this young man is just a block away from my apartment building. Yet I haven’t been down to see him. The truth is that I feel so comfortable here that I forget about this young man had asked us for a visit.

I am thankfully to Lazarus for reminding me that I could be like this rich man. It is easy to indulge in our own comfort zone and forget those who need their wounds to be ministered. I am going to look for this young man after I post this on my blog.

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Reflections on Being a Family

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”-Luke 14:25

This is a reflective follow-up on Michelle’s observations in our last blog post.

We have just completed three years here: a short time for those who understand long-term missionary work and a long time for those accustomed to short-term experiences. For us, it is just a time to reflect. Michelle’s observation helped us realize that we have reached a significant phase in our time here. We had hoped that we could be a family to the children and her observations confirmed that our intentions are materializing. Family, however, is a complex concept. There are all kinds of families. There are hospitable families where outsiders are received with much warmth and openness. Yet, the separation still exists between friends and “real” family members. There are dysfunctional families where the bonds of affection are loose and fragile. Relationships are volatile and interchangeable in these families. There are the kind of close-knit families where no one else matters except the blood relationships. The list of diverse family dynamics can be almost infinite. However, we do not go into streets to introduce our brand of family. We are here with the conviction that it is God who is leading us to be a family to the children. Therefore, we have to consider what kind of family God wants us to be in the streets. Before we can get to this answer, we need to first heed the tough and difficult words of Jesus regarding our family ties.

No one in their right mind would say aloud the things Jesus proffered in the above verse from the gospel of Luke. These sayings are often allocated to the tough sayings of Jesus. Everyone recognizes them but their implications are rarely considered seriously in the church community, despite the fact that the first Christian community did honor them literally in the Acts of the Apostles. Families in the primitive church sold everything and came together to be one. Traditional family ties were given up in order to become part of a broader reality in the Kingdom of God. We could only imagine the criticisms that Peter and the other married apostles must have endured. Christianity must have been considered then as a religion that was disruptive to regular family dynamics. We think that it is different today but in reality, in some countries where Christianity is not the dominant religion such criticisms still exist. Many friends of mine who came from Taoist and Buddhist backgrounds said that their parents considered them as spiritual traitors when they accepted baptism into the Christian faith. Some parents even disowned them. However, most readers of the blog, including myself, live in a predominantly Christian environment. We don’t face such social and cultural pressures. Nevertheless, these powerful and disturbing words of Jesus still apply to us. They should still scandalize and challenge us to rethink our idea of family.

Our commonly held family values are not from the gospel but they are based on our cultural and societal customs. They are, in reality, just a sophisticated form of animalistic behavior. There is nothing remarkably new or excellent about them. On the other hand, the gospel brings a radically new and more excellent dimension to our understanding of a family. It challenges us to go beyond our animalistic instincts and become human. Jesus’ words do not destroy family values but restore a true and godly understanding of them. We define families along blood ties whereas Jesus presents God’s idea of a family. This is clearly seen in one particular incident in the gospel of Luke when Jesus was told that His mother and brothers were patiently waiting to speak to him;

But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” -Luke 8:21

Family in the Kingdom of God is defined by our relationship to the Truth. We should not confuse this with doctrinal convictions. Hearing and doing the Truth is more than mere subscription to certain doctrines. It is a transformation of our attitudes. The first sign of this is reflected in our attitudes towards our neighbor.

Hearing and Doing the Truth does not mean that we have to abandon our families. At least, this won’t be necessary in our context. Jesus’ words are a challenge to us to evaluate and perhaps even abandon society’s restrictive concept of family in the Light of the gospel.

And no man puts new wine into old wineskins; else the new wine will burst the wineskins, and be spilled, and the wineskins shall be destroyed.-Luke 5:37

Ideally, our birth family is a training ground for us to learn how to love and accept others into our household. When our birth family becomes the be all and end all, then we fall into sin of idolatry. We need to discard the old in order to understand the value and beauty of the new concept of family that the gospel inaugurates. Discarding does not mean that we abandon them. It means that they should not keep us from accepting God’s richer and life-giving definition of family.
I want to bring this post back to the streets. God is teaching us to be a family. It is something new for all of us. A social worker once told me that he corrected a young teenage girl when she said that she considered him to be her father figure. He said that he will never be her father because he does not have the capability of accepting her into his household. I thought that it was tactless on his part to say these words to this young homeless girl. Nevertheless, he was being coherent with the world’s definition and standard of a family. However, by the grace of God, we are not social workers, not just us but all Christians. We have a higher calling . We are called to reconcile individuals back to the family of God. Social workers only deal with social problems. We are God’s children sent here to embrace those who do not know the true status of their existence as God’s children, as well.

I have been a son and a brother and Mary has been a daughter and sister. Now God has given us sons and daughters. Through the grace of God, we have become their father and mother. Many people who are living thousands of miles away from these children have adopted them through prayer as their grandchildren. Perhaps none of this would make sense to the world. It is a concept that is not common to them. They have to break away from their traditional ideas of what constitutes a family to understand this. Even then, it would still be impossible for anyone to do this until they have met the One who is the true Father of all. We have discovered our family in the streets and God has a family for you to discover as well. They may not be in the streets like ours but they are there somewhere waiting to be reconciled into God’s eternal family.

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Becoming part of the Family

It was a strange day. We waited on the steps of the cathedral for the children for three hours and not a single soul showed up. Usually we will spend time with at least one child but today was different. Finally, we decided that it was time to go home. We stopped at a grocery store on the way. As we came out of this store, a young lady came up to us and tried to get our attention. She did not look Brazilian: she was clearly a foreigner. We thought that she was lost and heard us speaking English and wanted to ask us for directions. Instead, her first words were: “Do you have a blog?” Her name is Michelle. She came to Brazil to discern a call to work with homeless children. Her first stop was São Paulo. She did some quick research the day before about missionary work among the homeless children here and our blog appeared among the list. Our meeting appeared to be random but we took it as an opportunity from God. We invited Michelle for lunch and she went with us to the streets. Then, Michelle decided to spend the last ten days of her trip here with us in the streets to discern her call. She met our family in the streets and it did not take long for her to become a part of it. I will let Michelle tell you about her participation in her own words.

Through the eyes of Michelle

michelle“Michelle!” Bruno shouted across the street to me as I sat on the steps outside Praça da Sé Cathedral. We met on the steps and he gave me a warm hug and told me he had missed me. I first met him 5 weeks before when we played Uno and talked. Bruno had immediately put me at ease and welcomed me as one of the family. I was so touched that he remembered me even though I had been gone for 5 weeks. He was instantly ready to open his arms to me and include me in his day and life, even though we didn’t know each other very well. I remember one of the first things that struck me about Bruno was how kind his eyes are. I know he has been through a lot but it hasn’t extinguished his kindness.

Through staying with Stephen and Mary and going out on the streets with them I learnt a lot about what true hospitality looks like. They welcomed me into their home, supported me, and showed me love in so many ways. Likewise, the street kids I met welcomed me as soon as they met me and treated me with respect and kindness. Even though I was a stranger to them and I couldn’t speak their language well they patiently waited for me to struggle through basic sentences in Portuguese. They accepted my presence as if it was normal and treated me either like a street worker or a friend, not just a random visitor.

Their acceptance of me is a testament to the work Stephen and Mary do. They have built strong relationships with them. They are friends with them. And Stephen and Mary introduced me to them as ‘our friend from England’. Friends meeting friends. The respect the street kids have for Stephen and Mary is obvious. It’s clear that Stephen and Mary have offered them safety and proved themselves to be trustworthy. I got all the benefits of being a friend of Stephen and Mary, as the street children’s respect for them meant I was welcomed so warmly.

The safe, trusting relationships Stephen and Mary have offered the children was most evident in one moment on my last day with them. Alex was the only child with us. He turned 16 that week but he looks and acts much younger. Stephen had a children’s Bible with him and Alex wanted him to read from it. As Stephen read, Alex was very engaged and interested. Lying on his side, he edged closer to Stephen, leaning over his arm, watching the words Stephen read and looking at the picture. He was physically close to Stephen, listening and enjoying the story, completely safe. It reminded me of a child listening to his father read him a bedtime story. Alex felt safe with Stephen and Mary and it showed in his body language and interactions with them.

It was a beautiful moment of innocence and safety for a child who lives and sleeps on the street. It’s hard to reconcile it with the other experiences I had of Alex over the week, like when I saw him do drugs, or when he showed us where he had slept the night before and pointed matter-of-factly at a bundle of dirty blankets on the street in the centre of São Paulo.

I remember during the week Stephen talking about family. He said he and Mary go out on the street as a family and they invite the kids to be part of their family. When I went out with them on the first day and met Bruno we played Uno on the steps of the Cathedral and I remember that it felt like a family playing a board game in their living room. The only thing that reminded me that this wasn’t normal was that other people walking by or sitting on the steps were looking at us in confusion and trying to work out why we were together.

Every day I saw the street kids come and find Stephen and Mary on the steps. They came knowing they would be accepted. Knowing that Stephen and Mary would be happy to see them. Sometimes they just talked, or coloured. More often they wanted to play Uno and there was a lot of laughter and friendly competition. Some of the kids came by for a brief talk and a hug and kiss. Others stayed all afternoon until we left.

waiting-for-the-children

There is a family reunion every day on the steps of Praça da Sé. It’s an odd looking family.Sometimes it’s a big family and sometimes it’s small. It’s a family that’s not always accepted or understood by onlookers. But it’s a family nonetheless. And Jesus is sitting right in the middle.

 

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Neither to the Right nor to the Left

Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king’s high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.-Numbers 20:17

We had just sat down for dinner. We hadn’t seen our friend for a while and finally, after several unsuccessful attempts, we could have a quiet evening together. As usual, our conversation led to our encounters with the children in the streets. Our friend has always been interested in our work. She considers herself an agnostic for the time being. She hasn’t quite found her spiritual home yet. However, this does not hinder us from speaking freely with her about our religious experience. We often share the spiritual lessons that we believe God is teaching us through the children. We don’t do this to do this as an attempt to evangelize her. She is aware of this. In reality, it has never been an issue. She is free to talk about her doubts and spirituality in the same manner with us. We speak so frequently about the children and teens that she even knows the children and teens by name, even though she has never met any of them. We were about to share an incident with Alex when all the sudden we heard loud and rowdy noises coming from the streets below. It sounded like our street was being invaded by a mob. The city has been in a turmoil for the past few days. There has been a sudden change of government recently. Many consider it to be a coup and they tried to legitimize it by impeaching the present president. Everything was made official on this day. The president was legally impeached. The whole procedure happened in such a dubious way that it has made people question the authenticity of Brazilian democracy. The people have taken to the streets to reclaim the whole democratic process. People of all ages shouting their chants of discontent. In the streets their voices interrupted our meal and talk. Being the curious beings that we are, we left our dinner table to see the commotion in the streets from our window. Then we heard the gunshots.

The police were heavily armed and they were shooting rubber bullets at the protesters. We heard bombs of tear gas being fired. We were quite surprised that they were doing this in our residential area. The protesters became disoriented and started running away to escape the stinging affect of the bomb. We felt strange watching this from a safe place in our apartment. Maybe we should be down below with them. These people were protesting against a grave injustice. It was partisan politics at worse. The protest was not in favor of the president: very few people thought that she was doing a good job. However, I have to resort to a cliché and say that “two wrongs do not make a right”. The democratic process needed to be respected. This protest was a call for re-election. We watched this drama of violence and politics unfold from the comfort of our living room window. The police successfully dispersed the crowd. The excitement slowly died down but the sirens and helicopters continued to haunt our neighborhood. We had to shut all the windows before we went back to our meal which was slightly cold by now. Thankfully, I prepared something that would be good at room temperature as well. No reheating was necessary. We could just sit and resume our conversation about Alex. It was really about his pet dog. It seemed like trivial subject compared to what we had just seen.

A few days ago, we saw Alex sitting alone at the steps of the cathedral. He has been spending more time with us. He was never seen without his little puppy, Princess. She was about three months old. We were really impressed by the way he had been taking of her. He had proved himself to be a very conscientious pet owner. He took her to the vet to get her shots. He used a large part of his money which he gets from begging to buy her the best dog food for puppies. This was good thing because he had less money to buy paint thinner. He carried her around wrapped in a blanket so that the cold winter breeze would not bother her. It was quite a delight watching him take care of his pet. Therefore, he was without her on this day. We sat down and waited for him to approach us which he did almost immediately. He was visibly upset. He told us that someone had stolen Princess. We could see that he wanted to cry but he held himself back. He sat in a silence for a while. Then he turned around and told us that it happened at night when he was in a deep sleep. He returned to his pensive mood. We sat there with him in silence. Finally he looked up and asked if I could go with him to help him look for the dog. He thought that there might be a possibility that it might been wondering around in the area where they usually slept. The children sleep under a highway tunnel. In order to get there, we have to cross two busy and dangerous roads. Alex wanted me to go with him. He could have done this on his own but he did not want to be alone today. I said that I would go and we set off together.

As we were walking to this place, Alex muttered a prayer which he kept repeating until we got to the place. He was pleading to God to keep his puppy safe and sound and he wanted to her back. It was a heart breaking prayer. Unfortunately, I felt almost certain that his dog was not going to be there. Nevertheless, we searched high and low and never found it. Eventually we gave up and walked slowly back to the cathedral. Alex was silent. I could see the disappointment and hopelessness in his eyes. I wanted to say something to comfort him but nothing came to my mind. I just walked beside him in silence. I put my arm around him and he just kept quiet. He did not stay long at the steps. He was too distraught. He went away and we did not see him after this for at least two days.

The President’s impeachment and Alex’s new lost puppy are the two events that happened this past week. The media covered the former and it was in everybody’s mind including us. On the other hand, Alex’s crisis was not newsworthy. It is an incident that only we knew about and now our friend knows as well. Alex’s world is simpler than the president’s. He has very little to give him pleasure in this life. His puppy brought him some joy and meaning. Now, it is gone. Alex has only drugs and nothing else. The president, on the other hand, might have felt humiliated and betrayed. She lost the chance to run a large nation. However, the truth is that she hasn’t lost much. She never had the power to begin with. She did not lose anything except her pride. She still has many things intact. The fact that there are thousands of people protesting around the nation is a sign of her wealth (I am using this in the broad sense). Maybe more people are expressing their support for her now than when she was actually the president. She may have lost her executive powers but she is not poor and forgotten. Alex, on the hand, remains forgotten and unknown. Losing a tiny puppy has made him poorer than before. It wasn’t just about a puppy. It was about being alone in this world. For a brief moment, Alex believed that there was a warm living thing that would be with him in the streets every single moment of his life. This dream was shattered. The dog was stolen from someone who barely had anything. The media will never report this tragic story. It operates on a different political realm where only the rich and famous matter. Our political realm includes people like Alex, the lonely and forgotten. This is why we are not in the protest. We did not want the political climate of this or any country to distract us from walking on the King’s Highway. We shall not turn to the left nor the right but keep our focus on the road to His Kingdom. Alex is our guide to keep us on this road.

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.- John 18:36

I feel like I should make something clear at this point. I do not intend to say that Christians should not be involved in political life of the country or even participate in protests and boycotts against injustice or the ruling party. I am not saying that they should either. The Holy Spirit is present in each one to guide us in our political involvement. We should not define political action in the restrictive manner of this world. We are not apolitical. We are very active politically but not according to the standards of this world. We walk in a different political highway.

We love this city. We love it despite of its pollution and traffic and lack of nature. However, we always need to be clear of who we are in this world. The crime and violence does not impede us from participating in its community life. Our friends consider us as “Paulistanos” (name given to those born in this city) at heart. We are proud of this. However, we are here because we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is present and real here. Kings, Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers come and go. They make promises that they cannot keep and most of them are not necessarily dishonest people. They believe like Pilate when he thought that he had the authority to decide on the outcome of Jesus’ life. The answer is always the same. They have no power except for what is given to them by God. Some people put their faith in them because they have no other choice. However, Christians are aware of a greater and eternal Kingdom. Our vocation is to be politicians of this Kingdom but we don’t take our cue from the politicians of this world. Unlike them, we don’t believe that it is up to us to materialize the Kingdom of God. It is not our prerogative to do this. It is already here present and active because the King of Kings is present through the Holy Spirit in this world. Our vocation is walk in this world as the Light of the gospel. This Light is to guide all peoples to walk in the highway that reveals the Kingdom of God. We don’t make God’s reality happen in this world. We are called to recognize its presence in this world.

I am saddened by the President’s impeachment. She is a human being and no one deserves to be humiliated publicly in this manner. However, I am not going to the streets because of this. We will go the streets everyday to protest against abandonment and isolation. We don’t need to carry signs. We don’t need to chant slogans. We don’t need the media or any public attention to achieve our goals. We just sit and wait at the steps of the cathedral. We wait for young children who have lost their treasured four-legged companions and want a parent to be with them in this tough and difficult moment. We wait for the Holy Spirit to bring the ones that are looking for the Kingdom to us. Personally, I have participated in protests against the government before. I ran away from rubber bullets. I suffocated on the fumes of the tear gas. I must admit that it is very frightening and exciting at the same time. It gives me feeling that I am doing something concrete. However, this feeling doesn’t last. In my soul, I know that there is a real and powerful way to make a difference in this world. Being with Alex on this sad day was a most powerful reminder of this. It seems like something trivial and some people might wonder how I say this about looking for a puppy. It wasn’t about the event. It was about the person. Being with Alex changed something in my soul. I can’t quite explain it yet, but it has kept me walking on the King’s Highway and discovering what it means to be a citizen in the Kingdom of God.

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