The Hands and Feet . . .

He’s seventeen.  I’ve known about him for quite some time.  I sit on an HOA board in our neighborhood and have been painfully aware of the trouble he’s gotten himself into over the years.  It’s been no secret to a select few of us that this boy has not had an easy life.  A perfect example of never judging a book by its cover.  A seemingly beautiful, upscale neighborhood where everyone’s manicured lawns and neighborhood involvement are almost “Stepford” on the surface, but then the surface doesn’t always tell us the truth now does it?

I’ve known for years that Jason’s (name changed for anonymity) mother has suffered from severe mental illness.  He moved into our neighborhood with his father and mother six plus years ago but shortly after their family began to unravel and so did his mother’s health.  Jason was often left alone to fend for himself.  As an early teen, he would slip over to the clubhouse some nights to visit the Director of Operations because their refrigerator at home had no food in it.  She kept sandwiches in her office for just such an occasion.  He dropped out of school.  The police were called numerous times to visit the home, investigate his well-being, follow up on disturbances that his mom would cause in the middle of the night.  But still, nothing legal was done and he remained in this “home” that didn’t seem like a home at all.

So, last week when I got word that the family’s home had been foreclosed on in late summer 2010, and that nothing had been done to resolve the matter, I also got word that the sheriff’s department was there, emptying the contents of their home onto the lawn and sidewalks.  In short order, what remained of his family life was now sitting outside for all the world to see, and Jason was there for all of it.

His mom was nowhere to be found.  When he called his father to ask for his help, the father refused.  This boy stood in the driveway, sifting through his family’s belongings, trying to decipher what should be salvaged before the GoodWill truck arrived.  It was a gut-wrenching site to see this young man standing in the midst of all their belongings, paralyzed and emotionless, and having to make very adult decisions, alone.

One by one, as each of us became aware of what was going on right under our eyes, and neighbors showed up in droves.  All of us hurting badly for this young man and not knowing what else to do but try and help lift the loads, literally and figuratively.  At one point, I counted 30 or more neighbors lifting desks and sofas and bags of clothing into the UHaul with Jason trying to provide direction when asked.  All of us wanted to hug this boy and tell him someone cared but the real Jason seems still lost somewhere down deep inside.

He is now living with one family for awhile and until he can get on his feet.  Numerous others collected money to help him.  Other’s are trying to help him find a job, a major priority.

Saint Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”

It seems to me that we might begin to “be” Christ’s hands and feet by considering how Jesus used his hands and feet while He was walking among us.  Jesus lived on earth in human form and, before He returned to the Father, promised that we who had faith in Him would do “greater things than these.” (John 14:12) Through the writers of scripture, we have a record of the way Jesus lived out His earthly existence and these stories offer us clues on how we might continue His work.

When we see another suffering or in need, isn’t it our responsibility to try and fill that gap between heaven and earth for them and be the hands and feet of Jesus?  That’s how people can know him.  By Him living in us and working through us in order for others to know Him.

My heart was warmed a hundred times over to see the neighbors come out and help this boy. I know we all wished we could do more or had done more in the past.  It’s wrong but certainly easy to pass judgment on his parents.  I can’t get my head wrapped around it myself.  But, I do know this.  By people stepping up, providing him with a roof over his head, money to eat, help finding a job, etc. there may be hope for Christ’s love to become evident to him and perhaps change the course of his young life.  He’s a kind kid.  He needs prayers.  They all do.

How many Jason’s do you walk past each day?

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