By Barb Arland-Fye
As I was mulling topics for this week’s column, my 15-year-old son Patrick suggested focusing on last Sunday’s Gospel reading from Luke and our pastor’s homily. Both focused on being prepared to enter the Kingdom of Heaven by eschewing our own material wants to do the will of God by serving others in need.
“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.” (Luke 12:35-37)
“You’ve got to be at the door, but this is the door of your heart and soul – not the door of your home or house,” Patrick says.
“How do you, personally, open the door of your heart and soul?” I asked him.
“You want to do something that’s right. You might want to feed the hungry, help the homeless. In my mind, I think God will accept that way of doing things. You’re helping his people. Some of those people (like the ones Patrick has helped serve meals to at Café on Vine in Davenport) can’t afford their own meals and they need our help.”
I explained to Patrick that some of us believe society as a whole has become greedy and that greed prevents us from changing systems that cause people to be chronically hungry and homeless.
Providing charity is one foot of social justice; the other foot is working to bring about change to eliminate the obstacles that keep people in poverty and in need. That’s a concept we’re still exploring in our house. In the meantime, Patrick points out that some people are not able — for whatever reasons — to care for themselves.
“Some of these people need the help and the love that everybody deserves. Nobody was born hated. Everyone was born to be loved,” Patrick told me.
He speaks from the heart as the younger brother of a warm and loving 23-year-old who is a dependent adult.
“Everybody wants to be loved,” Patrick continued, even those three prison inmates who escaped from a private Arizona prison last month. He’s not condoning the horrible crimes they committed, but understands that people get into trouble for a variety of reasons. The only ones who aren’t looking for love — or worthy of it — are Satan and his crew, Patrick said.
“You also have to believe that heaven is going to be better; you are going to be rewarded by God if you do everything in your power to help other people out and not just do things for yourself. Do things to help people feel better, to help them feel wanted and included.
“You’ll hear some people at Café on Vine after they’re done eating saying, ‘God bless you.’ I think that’s kind of nice.”
Although it’s easier said than done, as Patrick will readily admit, “you shouldn’t be selfish; you should be selfless.”
That’s the best way to prepare for the Lord’s knock on the door.