Sometimes the hymns that are sung at worship lead to reflections. I found this to happen to me recently. As I listened to the hymn “Change my heart O Lord, make it ever true. Make it be like you,” it was a cause for some personal reflection.
I was brought back to the time when I was a young seminarian (many years ago). I remembered an occasion on which I was walking in the Boston Common dressed in my seminary outfit (black suit, white shirt and black tie). I was determined to avoid street people that I felt would be seeking a handout. How charged I find myself today!
Recently I found myself sitting in the Boston North Station and was approached by a homeless woman. Instead of trying to a avoid her, I found myself listening to her. She was dressed neatly with a bandage wrapped around her leg. Her request was for seven dollars needed for train fare. Without hesitation I reached for my wallet and handed her seven dollars. A little later she passed by to warn me not to respond to another individual who would not use the money appropriately. Quite a change from the young seminarian.
This change effected my choice of ministry in retirement. I soon was working with colleagues to establish a place where troubled individuals in the Cape Ann area who were in need of assistance could find “acceptance, hospitality and opportunity.” Thus the Grace Center in Gloucester was established with the assistance of colleagues and dedicated volunteers. Individuals whom I was trying to avoid became the focus of my ministry. I found that the choice of my new mission was confirmed on a Christmas Eve. As I was entering the church a homeless individual fell in front of me. I was able to assist in getting him proper care before beginning the service. He was my Christmas gift.
It seems that now more than ever there are individuals that simply need “acceptance, hospitality and opportunity.” Just before I sat down to put this reflection into writing, I saw a picture of a new sculpture in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. It depicted the Holy Family in the midst of migrants. For me a reminder that in serving the poor we serve our Creator.
I still pray and sing to myself the phrase, “Change my Heart O Lord.” It is my prayer for all who read my musings to have a change of heart in a world that often reject troubled individuals.
Let us all pray: “CHANGE MY HEART O Lord!
The Rev. Ron Gariboldi is the retired co-pastor of Holy Family Parish. Midweek Musings rotates among Cape Ann clergy.