I’ve spent much of my life seeking to avoid awkward situations. Like avoiding interactions with homeless people or undocumented immigrants. Sadly, through much practice I’ve gotten pretty good at this.


As a human I am prone to the sin of selfishness.

In Italy I have observed people engaging the underprivileged in conversation and it has been on my mind for a while. Sure, I’ve given some cash to people on the street, but most of the time perhaps it was more of a payoff as if to say, “please just don’t talk to me.”

If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:6)

An Unexpected Gift

Last weekend we had some houseguests: Amy’s cousin Megan and Vern (Megan’s husband) who live in Rome, along with a friend of theirs (Maria) who lives in the UK. We had a nice weekend together, eating good food, having good conversation, and just enjoying time with the only family we have within a 4,000 mile radius.

Sunday morning I drove our guests back to the train station. After dropping them off Amy informed me that Vern had secretly left some cash behind so that we wouldn’t find it until after they had departed. Vern generously, lovingly, and privately thanked us with a nice gift. What a great (yet unnecessary) gesture!

An Unexpected Encounter

After the drop off, it was time to stop at a trash/recycling area to unload from the weekend. Our city does not have curbside trash/recycling pickup so we have to bring these items to a nearby series of bins.

Next to the trash bin there was an older man with a cane, picking through waste, hoping for a treasure (perhaps food or maybe a useful item). My first thought: Get out of here before he asks for money.

Upon leaving it hit me… the thought was so strong, it almost felt audible… “no one should have to do that….”

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

Message received. I then handed the guy a couple Euros (just over $2.00), he said thanks, and I was on my way.

Seconds later the thoughts came back, but stronger… “what about that money you received but were not expecting?” People picking through dumpsters… No one should have to do that.

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:10)

I hadn’t driven far so I pulled over and found the man and gave him what felt right in my heart, then we started talking. His name was Constantine, he was from Romania, he cannot work, and his son works at a nearby restaurant.

This time we hugged goodbye and what a joy it was. Hugging the guy came so natural, yet unnatural as I felt like was giving up control. Tears flowed down my face as I drove away knowing there are so many like this man, so many people to love, and so much work to do here on this Earth.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:11-12)

Jesus changed my life and he’s still working on me. He can do the same for you today if you let him.

Today’s reading: John 15