What had they done to get themselves into this situation? Why does he have so many tattoos? Why is she wearing revealing clothing?
But today Jesus nudged my heart and I saw them - their downcast spirits, their pained faces. I saw myself in them because I, too, was in need of grace. I was actually on my way to church to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, to ask God for forgiveness for the innumerable times I have offended Him.
And I realized how ridiculous, how hateful it is when I allow myself to judge my brothers and sisters to determine if they are worthy of receiving my help.
"For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." (Rom 3:23, emphasis mine)
I knew I still had to make it to confession but prayed they would be waiting there when I returned. An hour later I pulled into a nearby shopping center and looked for them on the sidewalk, but they were gone. Disappointed yet sure God had a plan, I hopped back in the car and was about to drive away when I spotted them sitting by a storefront.
Their names are Mike and Morgan, and they are homeless. He's applying for jobs, she's selling handicrafts, but lately it hasn't been enough to scrape by. Their little girl is living with a relative until they can get on their feet; they dream of making a better life for her.
Mike gratefully accepted my offer to buy them some groceries, so we went shopping together. I walked alongside the cart as he picked out various meats and ziploc bags, to freeze the meat in smaller portions for the coming weeks.
He's a praying man, he says. Every day he tosses their shoes under the bed so they have to get down on their knees to reach them; in doing so, they find themselves in the perfect position for prayer.
I've never been homeless, but I told Mike that I, too, have at times found myself in tremendous need of the Lord's mercy, and that He has always been there for me. He smiled slightly. "It's like us. Today we were wondering how we were gonna get by...and then you came."
You don't have to move to the Philippines to be a missionary. Jesus will put people right in your path and prompt you to love them and serve them as He would. You just have to listen.