The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Scum of the earth?

"I am going to leave a guaranteed salary and go and work with the homeless,” I announced to my friends in 1992. I launched out and experienced what the majority of what many of my brothers and sister experience in the world. I did not live on the streets, however, I lived a life marked by insecurities. With the support of some friends, a supportive wife, a few food banks and a few part-time jobs and my wife’s home business of babysitting, we learned to “live by faith.” Our experience did not match the words of St. Paul:

“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment” (I Corinthians 4:11-13).

One day it was clear that I needed two new tires on the car. It was a Friday that I announced this need to June. She called me at the office, “Carol needs us to watch Caleb over the weekend. Is this okay?” “It is okay with me and I think that will pay for two new tires.” Day after day, we experienced these serendipities of divine grace and goodness.

I am no great hero of faith. I do know that much of what passes as American Christianity does not match what St. Paul expressed in these words. We are too concerned with being part of the shiny people to identity with the “least of these’ (Matthew 25:40).

What would it mean to you and me if we took St. Paul’s example more seriously?


Ronald Friesen © 2015

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