I saw Jesus on 31st Street last Saturday evening.
What did he look like? This is how I recognized him. He wore the faces of three Hispanic teenagers who crossed the street ahead of me, the young man carrying a large plastic sack and the two girls each carrying a blanket.
As we neared the first of the homeless, already bunked in for the night, they stopped and one of the girls offered a navy blue blanket to the man lying in the shelter of a scaffold. When he accepted, she gently tucked it in around him. The boy reached into his sack, pulled out another blanket and they continued down the street, stopping at the next “sleeper” and repeating their offer. He refused. They moved on.
As I turned into St. Francis Church, they crossed the street to find others on the opposite side. I really didn’t need to hear the sermon that evening. I had already seen it in those three young people. I was incredibly touched by their actions. “I was homeless and you gave me a blanket...” I know the gospel doesn’t say so specifically, but it certainly implies it.
As I exited Mass an hour later and walked back down that same street, I saw more evidence of their having passed. Everyone had a dark blue blanket, the color of love that evening.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I will be giving thanks for those young people. They were scarcely out of their teens, but they obviously knew about love. As many of their contemporaries were heading off for an evening of fun, they were quietly heeding Jesus’ call to care for the least of his brothers.
Those three gave me more than a blanket.