A homeless mother smiles with her daughter on the streets of Europe. Photo courtesy of Marie Gamboa

Speaking out: Harden not your heart this Advent

By  Marie Gamboa, Speaking Out
  • December 7, 2017
One of my closest friends, Carrie, has always inspired me by her generosity and kind heart. Everything she does, she does for God. 

On a recent school trip to Europe, she passed by many homeless people. Since she was only passing by, she decided to quickly snap pictures of them so that she’d remember to pray for them. In Paris, Carrie saw a homeless mother and daughter. The teachers advised students not to talk to the locals, but Carrie, moved with compassion, bought them muffins from a nearby McDonald’s. When she asked to take their photo, the daughter looked straight at the camera and beamed a bright and genuine smile. The mother smiled when she saw her daughter smile. It warmed Carrie’s heart.

Scrolling through social media, we sometimes come across posts about random acts of kindness from everyday superheroes, like a police officer who bought a homeless man a pair of shoes or a cafe owner who offered a homeless man a sandwich. We say to ourselves, “This restores my faith in humanity.” We “like” the post. But then we keep scrolling. We forget about it. More often than not, we don’t strive to imitate the example set by those people.

Carrie is one of those everyday superheroes. For me, her act of kindness was a wake-up call. It made me ask myself if it’s so easy and so worthwhile to be generous, why aren’t we doing it more often?

It isn’t that we aren’t charitable at all. Statistics Canada reported in 2013 that 82 per cent of Canadians aged 15 or older donated to a charitable or non-profit organization. But when I asked my brother, who spends a lot of time in downtown Toronto, if he sees people being generous to those in need, he said, “Not often enough.”

Why do we walk away from those in need, specifically those living in poverty? Are we lazy? Stingy? Condescending? Is it because we haven’t been in their shoes? Or maybe we’re indifferent because we are suspicious of them. Maybe we judge them. 

Usually when my parents see somebody begging, they give them money or food without hesitation. My dad reminds me, “Harden not your heart.” It means that when there is a need, we are called to answer that need. 

But instead, sometimes we are swayed by the stereotype that homeless people are scammers or that beggars squander money on foolish things. 

Harden not your heart. We are not called to judge people; we are simply called to serve. We can’t judge a person and make assumptions about them. Jesus calls us to be compassionate and generous.

Jesus will commend those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit the imprisoned.

To be compassionate takes a lot of strength and courage. We must pray to the Holy Spirit to ignite in us the gift of courage. Let’s make this Advent season a little brighter.

(Gamboa, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Markville Secondary School in Markham, Ont.)

Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great reminder to be charitable, especially during this season of Advent!

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible, which has become acutely important amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.