I took the train into the city today for a conference for work. On the way out of town on the light rail to the train station, I happened to find myself standing next to a homeless man. He was older — gray-haired, gray beard. He wasn’t wearing anything more than a hoodie to keep him warm, and a fleece blanket.
I’m not normally one to strike up a conversation with strangers, but as soon as I boarded comments were made about how cold and windy it was outside. Today was an interesting weather day. This morning when I left the house it was nearly 60 degrees outside and when I started my way home on the train it was 37 degrees, windy, and rainy turning to snow.
I responded to the comments by agreeing with how crazy the weather was, and by asking the homeless man if he was doing okay. Again, not something I predicted myself doing, but I thought nothing of it. He responded that he was doing well, and then after a small pause, thanked me for asking him. He told me that people just seem to ignore him, and that he feels like no one sees him. I responded by telling him that I saw him. We ended up talking about his family. He was proud to talk about his kids and grandkids. I wouldn’t have guessed that he kept in touch or communicated regularly but he said that he does. He was happy to tell me about where his kids are and what they are doing. Before I knew it he was getting off the train at his stop, and our conversation had come to an abrupt end.
One of the missions of the Church is to care for the poor. I think that yes, that means donating what we can afford both physically and financially to help, and the church has great programs to aid in that, but I also think it means that we need to care about these people, and let them know that we care about them. From my experience today, it was as simple as asking how they’re doing. That meant a great deal to this man.
I don’t know his name, and he doesn’t know mine, and that’s okay. He knew in that moment that someone cared about him, and that’s what matters.
Throughout the course of his life Jesus could be found among the entire spectrum of society. Whether it was dining with the wealthy, conversing with the well-educated, or healing those who were struggling on the streets, he was there. I think most specifically of the woman who touched Jesus’ clothes as he was walking through a crowd. This woman had “spent all that she had” on a medical issue, and had nothing left. But she had the faith that if she could only touch the Savior’s clothes, she would be made whole. Jesus saw this woman, and healed her.
He saw everyone.
I learned today firsthand that perspective is everything. We need to see everyone, no matter what their social status may be, for who they truly are — children of a Heavenly Father; and that Heavenly Father sees them, knows them, and most importantly, loves them. If only everyone could at least try a little bit more to have this perspective, the world would be a little bit better of a place.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”