Friday, July 8, 2011


Fr. Dale Matson
"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see you a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you? aThe King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, b to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.' (Matt. 25:37-40) 
 Our Cathedral campus is spacious, unfenced, and kind of like a landscaped mall with several buildings including a school.  It is located in an area of Fresno California surrounded by aging apartments. Because it is a large corner lot by an intersection, many folks cut through the campus as a shortcut to somewhere in the neighborhood.  These folks also shop in our second hand store and come on Wednesdays for our food pantry.  Some stop in to our Parish offices to ask for rent money or for Pastoral counseling. We also constructed a gymnasium for the neighborhood children for recreation. This discourages, to some extent the strong pull into the gang lifestyle. Because it is a transitional neighborhood, there are various ethnic gangs competing for turf and we are a part of that real estate.
Last Wednesday I was in my cassock and surplice on the way to conduct Evening Prayer in the chapel when an older man (actually he and I a probably about the same age) approached me and asked if I had seen a shopping cart. I answered that I hadn’t. He had hidden a cart in some shrubbery earlier in hopes that it would be available for our food distribution and it was no longer there. After conducting services I was walking to my car when I realized I had left one of my (20 or so pair) of reading glasses in the chapel. As I walked out after retrieving them I came across the man again. He was pushing another cart with food in it. I was led to offer to pray for him also and he was initially reluctant but acquiesced and said, “let’s sit down on the wall”. I introduced myself and he said his name was Robert (not his real name) and he lived on the streets. I asked what he would like to pray for and he said that it didn’t matter, that when he was in the Army he had dog tags that indicated that he was an atheist.  I told him my Army dog tags indicated “no preference”. So I guess at that time we were in a similar situation. As I prayed for him, I asked the Lord to bring Robert a sense of peace, hope and a sense of belongingness.
Robert is a man my age that is down to life’s basics of food, clothing and shelter. There are lots of Robert’s and Rita’s that cross our campus every day. The Gospel we offer rarely gets past the creature comfort level but this is Kingdom work and it is often done one person at a time. That one person is Christ every time. The mission work begins in our homes, in our church and our parish neighborhood.   (This was included in a book of meditations published previously but until now not included on the Soundings Blog)

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