Friday, April 10, 2009

The Face of the Poor in Chicago

In Chicago, you never know who might be poor.  I mean the real poor, not the cup-shaking grifters who pop up outside liquor stores and tourist spots.  I know someone who's a millionaire.  He has no idea that the person who lives two doors down from him is on food stamps.  People think that just because you live in a high-rise you're rich.  In Chicago, like other big cities, that's simply not true.

This sculpture sits outside the LaSalle Street offices of Catholic Charities.  I started going there to drop off some unneeded clothing that I thought might be able to help out someone less fortunate than myself.  Boy was I surprised by what I saw.

The "poor" people inside could easily be divided into two categories -- the afore-mentioned cup-shaking grifters; and a whole bunch of people who look, talk, sound, and act just like anyone else you might run into a Starbucks or J. Crew, or Millennium Park.  These are people who simply missed a rent payment or who lost their job because of downsizing and found themselves on the street.  We're all a little closer to misfortune these days.  What happened to them could happen to any of us.

A plaque on the sculpture reads

This sculpture is a visual representation of charity.
"Whatever you did for one of these lease brothers
of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40
We should see Christ in the poor and the hungry.
We should see our acts of kindness to them as kindness to Him

One day when dropping off another few bags of clothes I saw that the sculpture had money in its palm.  And as I was looking through the fence at it a man, clearly Muslim by his beard and headgear, came down the path and added his contribution to the statue in front of Catholic Charities.

Today is Good Friday.  Let's remember that in many ways we're all in this together.

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