Dear Friends of Joseph House:
A few months ago, three of us were at a gas station on a rainy morning in late winter when a familiar face appeared. It was Gregory, looking cold and a little down. The Sister at the wheel rolled down the car window.
“Hi Gregory, how are you doing?”
“Hi Sister. You know, my brother is in bad shape. He was in an accident and he’s not doing good. They took them to that place in Baltimore, uh . . .”
“You mean Johns Hopkins?”
“Yeah. You know, I need a little money, ten dollars, for a bus ticket, so I can get to my father and then we can go see my brother.”
Sister started reaching into her pocket when Gregory continued: “I haven’t eaten anything today, maybe you could make that twenty.”
Sister held up a folded twenty dollar bill. “Here you go, Gregory. We will pray for you and for your brother. We hope everything goes well.”
Gregory thanked us, and then we watched him shuffle into the gas station to get whatever nourishment he could find.
“Well, that’s what the money is for,” Sister said, and we continued on our way.
Jesus taught that “whatever you do to the least of My brothers and sisters you do to Me” (Mt 25:40). This Gospel verse is fundamental to the mission of the Joseph House. Like you, we believe in what Jesus said, and God will check on how much we believe it in the daily unfolding of our lives. But of course, it’s not always easy to be ready. It can be just as hard to see the presence of Christ in a family member when our patience is worn thin as it can be to see Him in a poor man asking for money in the rain.
Throughout history, this verse from Matthew 25 has tested believers on what their faith really means in their day-to-day living. It brings heaven down to earth and reminds us that our beliefs need to be expressed in how we live. Near the end of his life, Charles de Foucauld, the spiritual father of the Joseph House and the Little Sisters, wrote to a friend that nothing in the Gospel made a deeper impression on him or changed his life more than this verse. It changed his life at the root. Does it change ours?
As Little Sisters, our meeting with Gregory is typical in our lives. We turn around and there is someone next to us, or at the door or on the phone. Our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth said, “Whoever God sends that day is of His doing. We must lovingly and willingly meet the poor and their needs. We cannot grow cold, even though we become tired and overwhelmed with so many people.” All of us, no matter who we are, will encounter people, often unexpectedly, who cry out in so many ways for a little love, patience, and understanding. These are sacred moments. Let’s be ready with a smile.
We are grateful for your support of the Joseph House. Your generosity makes a huge difference to people at the end of their rope. Thank you for being a good friend. Your fidelity allows our mission to go on.
Lisa, 47, is another familiar face that showed up recently, this time at our Crisis Center. She lives in a very poor section of town and has a rare blood disease. She must go to Baltimore frequently for treatment, although there have been times when she couldn’t afford to do so. Lisa is always on the edge of destitution; she never has enough money for any of her basic needs, like housing, utilities, or food.
A few years ago, Lisa received an education grant to become a licensed practical nurse. Despite feeling weak and out of commission, she was determined to provide for herself. It didn’t work out, however, not just because of her health, but she was born with a slight learning disability. The cards seem stacked against her.
Lisa is unfailingly polite and unassuming, displaying the remarkable fortitude of someone tried by adversity. Her latest need was a cut-off notice from the electric company. We paid the whole bill ($343) since there was no chance her meager Social Security income would cover any of it. Lisa is yet another reminder that we must look out for each other as one Body in Christ.
Christy, age 50 and a widow, was a newcomer and had many problems. She and her daughter were forced out of their rental because their landlord was being foreclosed. Suddenly homeless, Christy was trying to cope with the turmoil. She is being treated for cancer and her weakened health makes everything more difficult. She lost some of her important papers and this was delaying her assistance from the state. We gave her three nights in motel ($234), groceries, a gasoline voucher, and cash for meals.
Maybe it’s our memories of the school year and the approach of summer vacation, but the month of May always brings a happy feeling of anticipation. We are extra excited this year because, as we have mentioned before, Charles de Foucauld is being canonized a saint on the 15th. And we are extra, extra excited because our own Sr. Virginia will be attending the ceremony in Rome!
Sr. Virginia will be part of a small group of pilgrims led by a long-time friend of our community, Fr. Lennie Tighe, who is an authority on Br. Charles. We are so happy that Sister will be there to represent us; she will be our eyes and ears and we can’t wait to hear her eyewitness account of this momentous occasion, which we will share with you.
The canonization Mass is scheduled to be televised on EWTN on Sunday, May 15 at 4:00 AM (live) and again at 12 noon.
Our joy is tempered by the war in Ukraine. Let us pray for peace and be ambassadors for peace to each person we meet. May the goodness of God be with you.
Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
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