“Thank you for not being afraid of serving us”, said one of our friends as we were handing out boxed lunches at the park on Wednesday. 

It is true there’s a lot of fear these days around the homeless. Fear of them spreading the virus, fear of the volunteers who might be carriers as well, of passing the virus to others.

The governor has asked for all people to stay home, but he also asked for those who are young and healthy to volunteer with the organizations who are serving those most in need. 

And at this point, the need is great. 

Many day shelters are not allowing the homeless to enter. Some are handing snacks or sandwiches at the door. Other services are closing their offices, though they are still available online and on the phone. Libraries are also closed, and for the majority of homeless people that is the one place where they can access their email.

Because restaurants are closed too, many homeless have no place to be or use the restroom. The experience of the people who live on the streets is that they are more isolated and abandoned than ever, adding the fear of getting a disease that could be fatal for many of them, who are already of poor health. 

It’s probably because of this that every minute spent on the streets and every minute with each of our friends, is so precious. 

“I’m afraid of getting the virus too” one of them told me, “but I have to eat. So I risk it.” 

As long as there are poor on the streets, Christ will be out there for them. And today, Christ is revealed in all those unknown men and women who are also risking their lives to serve the poor. Today, every act of kindness, every minute spent knowing, loving, and serving the poor has the weight of eternity. 

“Thank you for not being afraid of serving us”, keeps resounding in my head. 

But today I have to thank them, because they have let me touch their suffering so deeply, for letting me accompany them, for letting me see Christ in them. 

Erika Scheelje is the Director of Formation for Christ in the City (aka Spiritual Mother to our missionaries). She is a consecrated lay member of the Marian Community of Reconciliation, also known as “Fraternas”. She enjoys swimming, reading, and mission trips with the people in the mountains of Peru.