Last night, we got a phone call from my husband's cousin.  He had not been in touch with her for many years aside from little favors here and there...and when someone got married or died.  They live on the other side of the country, so it is hard to get together as he did as when in his youth.  But, this estranged cousin called to say that she was in dire straights and needed a large amount of money.  They were going to turn off her gas.  Wow...what a call.  My husband didn't make any promises, but said that he would talk to his wife first (me :-) ) and then we would make a decision. 
     His first reaction was to want to send at least part of the money.  His Uncle lives with his cousin and he is worried about him.  I think that Cliff wants to honor his mother and what she would expect of him.  We can't afford to give the full amount of what his cousin was asking for but we wanted to at least help.  I love to help people who need help.   At one point in time or another we have all needed help and have had to reach out to ask...but I pointed out that we don't know anything about his cousin.  He hasn't seen her in about 30 years.  She has usually turn to your immediate family when something like this what else is going on if they are not"stepping up"?  What did his cousin leave out of the equation?
    We were going to call my husband's sisters to see if they knew of see if they were still in the loop...but they had just boarded a cruise ship and we didn't want to bother them.  So, my husband called our niece to see if she knew of anything.  Her first you Kristy if you are reading this....was "Do you want me to write a check?"  No!  We weren't calling for money.  We needed information.  Finally, Cliff called his other male of the person who needed the $$$.  It turned out that Cliff's questionable cousin is living with a person who has a gambling problem.  Well, first of all....she is living with him...second of all....why is she living with him?  And third of all....WHY is she living with HIM?! 
    In the end, Cliff got hold of the gas company and made a much smaller transaction to the gas company on her behalf.  But, it would have been nice to be able to do more.  So, my question in all of this is....What are we supposed to do?
     What are we supposed to do when you have a family member in trouble?  You want to help.....but in helping...are you REALLY helping?...or are you aiding and abetting the problem that they have?  Are you really developing a co-dependent relationship?  How do we really help these people?  With the world being what it is today, with drugs, alcohol and gambling problems on the do you know when you are helping people or feeding the addiction?
     I have a soft place in my heart for the homeless.  There was a time, when at intersections in the uptown area, you would see men...and rarely women...standing in the crosswalk areas of intersection holding signs asking for food in exchange for work.  My heart would break when I would see this.  We don't see it anymore because our town has outlawed it.  When I would see these people, I would did you get to this point?  It is kind of like staring at your own mortality when you see a dying person.  In this case, it is as though, their livelihood had died.  I believe that we all need a second chance.  Sometimes, we need a third, fourth or fifth chance....but where do you draw the line?
     Anyway, when I see homeless people, I want to help, but don't like giving I started carrying McDonald's gift certificates in my glove compartment so that I can hand those out.  I figure that there are McDonald's restaurants on nearly every other street corner...I know that that is an exaggeration...but there area a lot of these restaurants around town.  So, that is what I choose to hand out.  I then say a God Bless You or Jesus Loves You and drive away.  It is the fastest thing that I can think of as I drive, drop off, and continue in traffic. As I leave the situation, I lame that must sound to someone who is so down on their luck.  "Jesus loves ME?!...Ha!" they must be thinking.  "If Jesus loves me, then why did I lose my job?  Why did my wife/husband/whatever leave me?  Why did my kid get sick and die?  Why....why....why?"   I am sure that the list goes on and on.  I don't have the answer to any of this....but I do have a ton of questions.
     I always wonder how a veteran who gave his or her life for this country ended up on the streets begging for food.  Oh, I am sure that there are people who got themselves where they are because of bad decisions that they have made.  We all suffer consequences for our bad actions....but that is not who I am addressing here.  I am addressing the people who paid all of their bills and saved money into their savings accounts and lost a job.  They did everything that they were supposed to do..the right way.  They did all of that and still ended up losing their homes, apartments, cars...etc.  What did these people ever do that was so wrong that they ended up in this predicament?!  We are all one step away from poverty.  We all go about our business with the attitudes that it could never happen to us.  So, where do we go from here?
     One thing that I have learned is that these people need a voice and an address.  They need food in their bellies, clean clothes and a shower.  They need a hair cut.  They need self esteem.  They need compassion and a hand "up" and not a hand out.  With all of the budget cuts taking place...they need someone who can help them to get back on their feet again.  They need us.  They need a smile and not us looking the other way.  They need empathy instead of "Where is that smell coming from!" 
    I don't have any answers and would not surmise to tell you what you should or should not do.  But, if a smelly homeless person comes to Sunday mass or service....or to Saturday Temple....and sits next to you ....what would you do before Almighty God?  What are we supposed to do?
    I have been watching a group of Christians in Orlando get arrested because they are feeding the homeless in an area that is supposed to be off limits...but that is where the homeless people congregate.  You see them on the 6 o'clock News being lead off in the paddy wagon handcuffed for feeding poor people...and the mayor of Orlando has been quoted as naming the Food Terrorists.  I don't know about you, but when I think of the word "terrorist" simultaneously the words compassionate, caring, loving, and God Fearing do not pop into my head....and yet when I see these people being lead off in that wagon...those are the words that come to my mind along with "YOU GO!"  I am happy to see these people, young and older alike taking a stand against the city of Orlando.  They will now be suing Mayor Dwyer.  Again, I say, "You go....make a difference!"  I admire them.  A lot of these people are young.  They could be off playing in a band, skateboarding with friends, playing with their technology...but they're not.  They are making a stand for a cause...the RIGHT to feed the people who need to be fed!! 
     The thing that we need to keep in mind is that when you work with the homeless, it doesn't come without a cost.  It could cost you money, your time, your energy, your emotions, and possibly even illness.  But, the pay off is that you know that you are doing what God would want you to do.  He loves every person on the face of this earth.  Yes...He even loved Hitler and Osama Bin Laudin.  He loves everybody.  He doesn't like the decisions that we make...or the things that we do in those decisions...but He loves every single last one of us....and and I....need to respect that. 
    And with the famous words of Judge Perry who is residing over the Casey Anthony case says almost daily...."And that is all that I am going to say about it"...implying that we all know what is expected of us and there is nothing else to say.  When he said it the other my mind's eye....I could see his mother stating this phrase to him when he was a young boy.  I could know that the lawn isn't going to mow itself...and that is all that I am going to say about it.  LOL.  Forgive me Judge Perry if this is not the case...but sometimes my imagination runs away with me. <grin>

....and that is all that I am going to say about it. :-)