Daily Riches: Treating the Poor as Honored Guests (Dorothy Day, Robert Coles and Thomas Merton)

“One afternoon, after several of us had struggled with a ‘wino,’ a ‘Bowery bum,’ an angry, cursing, truculent man of fifty or so, with long gray hair, a full, scraggly beard, a huge scar on this right cheek, a mouth with virtually no teeth, and bloodshot eyes, one of which had a terrible tic, she [Dorothy Day, in her Catholic Worker’s soup kitchen] said,  ‘For all we know he might be God Himself come here to test us, so let us treat him as an honored guest and look at his face as if it is the most beautiful one we can imagine.’”  Robert Coles


“Into this world,
this demented inn,
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ has come uninvited.
But because he cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it,
and yet he must be in it,
his place is with those others for whom there is no room.
His place is with those who do not belong,
who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak,
those who are discredited,
who are denied the status of persons,
With those for whom there is no room,
Christ is present in this world.”
Thomas Merton

“[God] will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them.
He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
for their lives are precious to him.”   
Psalm 72:1-14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you share God’s “pity for the weak and the needy?” Have you ever treated a “Bowery bum” as an honored guest? If so, what happened?
  • Christ’s place is “with those others for whom there is no room.” He identifies himself with them. He stands with them in solidarity (Mt. 25:40) Do you attempt to treat such people as you would treat Jesus?
  • Imagine being “denied the status of persons.” Imagine what standing with and loving such a person could do for her. Who do you know who is “denied the status” of a person?

Abba, open my eyes to the invisible. Open my heart to the unwanted. Open my hands to the needy.

For More: Raids On the Unspeakable by Thomas Merton


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

3 thoughts on “Daily Riches: Treating the Poor as Honored Guests (Dorothy Day, Robert Coles and Thomas Merton)

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