Posted January 08, 2016:
Antoine and I

by Rosie Seeto, a friend of MH Toronto.

O God, you are the God of love who is not loved. You are the God of the poor I did not reach out to because of my own selfish heart. Yet your heart is open to me.

You came to me in poor Antoine, the homeless wanderer, who never looked very good and was never very sober, who slurred his words and repeated himself often. But he was always very gentle and humble when he asked, "Can I talk to you for a few minutes?"

Inside, O God, I was impatient. I had no kindness to extend, especially when all he had was my name and address on a piece of paper someone had given him.

How many had already rejected him? Did I give him a few moments of my day to say, "Welcome. You are a child of God the Father; you are my brother in the Lord Jesus?"

No, my words were, "What do you really want?"—and not as gentle as that, for I was always trying to get my work done—things I felt I needed to attend to so that I might feel proud of myself for having accomplished them.

It was at inopportune times that Antoine needed desperately to be heard, needed someone to listen to him.

Sometimes it was early morning or afternoon, or when I am trying to prepare supper for one of my friends, which would make me feel good because I did this for her. Or it might be late at night when I was ready to forget the world and especially the beggar Christ at the door.

It became easy to shove him a bag of groceries or some money, and this could happen three or four times in a week.

It was harder when he came when I was at prayer, trying to forget everything, even the fact that prayer is meeting the Lord, personally.

I kept feeling worse inside, for I was always rushed—either on the phone or in the middle of some task.

Then one day he came on an evening when I had rushed home from work for a prayer meeting, and no one had shown up. "Gee," I said to myself in irritation, "I could have stayed and enjoyed a couple more hours with my friends."

But Antoine showed up as usual. Well, Lord, was this the opportunity for me to show real hospitality to him after all those times I had anxiously ushered him out? Did You want me to pour out on him the love You have for him?

Silently I prayed that the love of Jesus might be reflected in my eyes so that Antoine might feel it, as again he wanted to talk.

Knowing that Antoine loves coffee, I offered him some, and he finally talked. And the more he talked, the more I realized how lonely he was in a city where he didn’t know anyone except for whoever took him in or talked to him.

His chums were other drinkers who hung around the mall, begging for money. And, of course, when you are begging, most people walk away, silently and quickly.

I could sense his feeling of rejection, and I now understood why on meeting me for the first time, he told me that he didn’t trust me. That time, all I could do in my hurt was to mumble, "Maybe you’ve had a bad experience."

I wondered why he kept coming back, since I had not been particularly kind, but he did seem desperately in need of someone who would look beyond his unsightly appearance and drinking habit and accept him as he was.

After talking for half an hour, he asked me, "Is there anything else you want to know about me?"

Maybe he had found a little bit of acceptance in me. All I could do was smile and bid him to take care.



If you enjoy our articles, we ask you to please consider subscribing to the print edition of Restoration; it's only $10 a year, and will help us stay in print. Thanks, and God bless you!


Restoration Contents

Next article:
Encountering the Poor

Previous article:
Farewell from Fr. Pat



RSS 2.0RSS feed

Madonna House - A Training Centre for the Lay Apostolate