Monday of the First Week of Lent
(Leviticus 19:1-2.11-18; Matthew 25:31-46)
We call him “Lawrence of Arabia.” We don’t mean to ridicule him. His name is Larry so associating him with the legendary desert wanderer serves as mnemonic device. Larry is a street person. He also seems to have lost his mind. At least, it is difficult to hold a conversation with him. Larry will pop into chapel when we are having mass or Morning Prayer. Sometimes his entry is announced by the smell of dried urine. He usually does not stay long as he suddenly stands up and walks out. We, or at least I, never give him any money, but we are ready to feed him if he should ask. On Sundays he is escorted to the hall where coffee and donuts are waiting.
What surprises us about Larry is that Jesus identifies himself with him in today’s gospel. The people being judged in that passage have the same reaction. Whatever we do to or for Larry, whatever they did for the hungry, the sick, etc., is done to or for the Lord. At the very least, we should treat people like Larry with respect. It will not do to yell at him. Rather we should call him by name and talk to him as with more conventional visitors. If he does something intolerable, we should point it out and ask that he doesn’t do it again.
Larry, as far as I know, has always responded sensibly. Perhaps someday he will become belligerent. Then we may have to call the police, but even then we should explain to him our reason. The Lord will understand that we are not having himself taken away. He knows that we care about him when we treat Larry as a neighbor.