My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
One felt more like taking the [homeless’] hands and saying, “Forgive us — let us forgive each other! All of us who are more comfortable, who have a place to sleep, three meals a day, work to do — we are responsible for your condition. We are guilty of each other’s sins. We must bear each other’s burdens. Forgive us and may Godde forgive us!”
Dorothy Day, Selected Writings
Give Us This Day
God assumes the totality of our being, even if we bear the fault. God is at the very center of our life. He assumes it all. His love never falls short, is inexhaustible, unconditional. Humbly, ‘with our heart on its knees’, we join the dark path that leads Jesus to the cross and, from there, with our heart on its knees, we enter the world’s pain.
Jacqueline Glénisson, Third Week, p. 27
Eides # 71
Cristianisme i Justicia
For the first time maybe I noticed those crowds who had brought the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, ‘and many others.’ Their smell reminded of those men from the jugghies (slums) of Delhi who had come to pack our belongings when we returned to Switzerland. The smell of poverty, the reality of owning nothing, just the clothes on their back, their wiry bodies, their gaunt cheeks, filled our house. Among the faces in the crowd, I could also recognize my dead (some of them still alive) homeless friends or the beggars I noticed in Rome this past week.
This multitude of people loved so very much what they saw Jesus do, whether healing or talking to them as if they mattered, that they stayed with him three days and two nights without eating. His words truly were their food.
Who among us has gone to a retreat and not eaten for three days so entranced by our encounter with Jesus?
This morning, as I read Dorothy Day’s words, I allowed my heart to be broken. In the flight back from Rome yesterday, as I was reading Jacqueline Glénisson’s article, “A Contemporary Interpretation of St Ignatius’ Exercises”, I promised myself that I would allow my heart to fall on its knees when the cruelty of life is presented to me — instead of hardening my heart, which is what I usually do.
To receive a heart of flesh, I need to let my heart of stone be broken. If I try to avoid it, then how can I hope an encounter with Christ? How can I understand his ministry to our world, a ministry to which each one of us is called.
I watch Him looking at the crowds — with pity, with compassion, with tenderness and love. I watch Him turning to me and say, “Let us feed them. What have you got that we can share?”
Art: “Jesus of the Breadline”, woodblock art by Fritz Eichenberg