In her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Mary says, “He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.” That line used to bother me. It sounds mean. I have often asked Our Lady what she meant by it exactly. I love the way she answered.

Some years ago I had a friend who was homeless. His name was, let’s say, Joe. He was eccentric, flamboyant, and charming. We were friends for years. Joe was fun to talk to.

One hot day I was on my way to my brother’s house with my two kids in the back seat: Maire, then eight years old, and Roise, only four. They were not being particularly good in the back of the car.

I got a call from Joe. I said, “Hey! How are you?” He said, “HOT! I’m very hungry and thirsty. Do you have any change so I can eat and drink?” He sounded hoarse. “Where are you?” I asked.

He was about a block away. All I had was a twenty -dollar bill for the week. I thought about it. I had paid the bills and gotten groceries for the week. But if I gave Joe the twenty, as I felt inspired to do, if we ran out of bread or milk we would have to wait until pay day for it. I was willing, I decided. I would be fine. Joe needed it more.

 

I headed his way. “Where are we going?” asked Maire. “We are going to help Jesus out today. He’s hungry,” I answered. “He smells bad!” complained Roise from her car seat. “Pretend he doesn’t,” I suggested. “Stop being so rude, Door Knob!” Maire scolded her sister. “Just offer it up!”

We pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot where Joe was waiting for us. I jumped out of the car and gave him a hug. The girls waved from the window. He waved back and asked them if they were being good today. This question they wisely declined to answer.

Joe wasn’t looking too good. I was worried he might be sick. He said he would be OK when he had something to drink. He was so happy about the twenty dollars he practically danced. He was wearing what looked like a bull -fighter’s outfit that day. A dance would have been perfect.

As we pulled away from a very happy and relieved Joe, who had been so hungry and now had the prospect of lunch and maybe even dinner, I looked around at my beaming, waving kids, and felt the smile on my own face, even though I was now broke for the week.

Then I realized that the hungry had been filled and the rich sent away empty. But both were happy! 🙂

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