“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2).”
While sitting in Victoria, B.C’s, Murchie’s sidewalk cafe, back in June of 2013, with my friend Archpriest Basil Rhodes, we noticed a homeless man stop behind me. The man was staring at our food, so Father Basil asked him if he was hungry. He answered with an enthusiastic “yes”, and when Father asked what he’d like to eat, he said “eggs and sausages”. Father Basil told him they didn’t have such a breakfast here, but gave him five dollars to buy it somewhere else.
The whole time this conversation was taking place with this homeless man, another man, around thirty years of age, was standing nearby, listening to every word. As the homeless man walked away, the younger man walked up and confronted us with the question, “how could you give money to a junky? You are not doing him any good by giving him money. Aren’t you men of God?”
I responded by saying that it was not our place to judge anyone, to which he replied, in a confrontational manner, “he’s just going to buy drugs with that money. You don’t seem to be very intuitive”. I told him I’d worked with the homeless before, and that the man was hungry and deserving of our charity. The man said “cheers” and dismissively walked away.
A woman seated at a nearby table called over with the words, “good response”. She then came over to our table, knelt down beside me, and with tears in her eyes, identified herself as a social worker, and told us she’d been going through a particularly difficult time, and that the interaction she’d just witnessed had helped her immensely.
I then told this woman the story of the time I was walking with an elderly bishop of the Russian Church, and how I had spotted a filthy homeless man walking towards us. This man’s hair was disheveled, filthy with years of dirt, and was wearing torn clothing. He had no soles on his shoes, so with each step we could see the bottom of his feet. Instinctively, I took the elbow of the bishop, and attempted to get him to cross in the middle of the street. The bishop asked why, and I said, “Look at the crazy man coming towards us”. The bishop told me we were not crossing, but would continue.
When directly in front of the man, the bishop stopped, reached out, taking the man’s filthy right hand into his own, and placed a twenty dollar bill into the man’s hand, covering the bill with the man’s left hand. At that moment the man looked up into our eyes, saying nothing. But looking back were the bluest, clearest eyes I had ever seen. They were not the eyes of a homeless man, nor the eyes of a deranged man, eyes filled with wisdom and holiness.
As we walked away, I remarked about the man’s eyes, to which the bishop responded by saying, “We just encountered an angel unaware, and we were being tested,” recalling the words of Scripture, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).
After the social worker left, a man seated at a nearby table remarked, “that was the most remarkable story I’ve ever heard, and you made my wife cry”. This other couple had witnessed the whole of these encounters.
A moment later, the young man who’d judged us so harshly after the original encounter, returned. He came up, asked forgiveness for having judged us. He said he’d followed the homeless man, and witnessed him buying yogurt and fruit with the money we’d given him. I stood up, gave the young man a hug, and we all parted ways.
With love in Christ,
Wednesday August 5, 2015 / July 23, 2015
10th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Fast. Food with Oil
“Pochaev” (1675) Icon of the Mother of God.
Martyrs Trophimus, Theophilus, and 13 others in Lycia (305).
St. Theodore of Sanaskar (Glorification 2001).
New Hieromartyr Michael priest and Martyr Andrew (1938).
Hieromartyr Apollinaris, bishop of Ravenna (75).
Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos “The Joy of All Who Sorrow” (with coins) in St. Petersburg (1888).
Righteous Anna (Hannah), mother of the Prophet Samuel.
Translation of the Relics of St. Herman (Germanus), Archbishop of Kazan.
250 martyrs killed by Bulgarians (802-811) (Greek).
Eight Martyrs of Carthage (Greek).
St. Anna of Leucadia (919) (Greek).
New Hieromartyr Nectarius (Trezvinsky), bishop of Yaransk.
Repose of St. John Cassian the Roman, abbot, of Marseilles (435).
The Daily Scripture Readings
1 Corinthians 16:4-12
4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.
5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6 And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits.
8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
10 And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren.
12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said to Him, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.