Throughout my life, the Lord has led me from fear, confusion, drug addiction, and jail. The Lord led me out of homelessness and into housing, from being lost spiritually to the salvation I have found at Trinity’s 12:05 service. God led me from devious people to priests, sisters, and humanitarians. The blessings the Lord bestows on me are endless.
When I was young, I felt the warm comforting love from my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. I felt the peace and solitude found in suburbia— the wonders of nature, flowers, grass, leaves, and trees; birds and squirrels; cats and dogs— the magnificent perfection of God’s creation. Smiling came early, and love came naturally to me. Life continued to take on new forms, but God’s love was constant. Being an altar boy, I gained an early understanding of faith and spirituality, especially in older people.
As the years passed, my awareness of social issues heightened: assassinations, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Kent State shooting, the Space Race, Woodstock, British Rock, Muhammad Ali. The world was spinning at lightning speed. Birds and flowers became secondary to fear and confusion. Nice people were less evident than angry people. Praying for peace and understanding felt essential to calm the murky waters. Turbulence was a constant, and the nightly news injected further fear and confusion.
Once I took the time to process everything that was happening around me both personally and socially, I realized that I am here by the grace of God. I returned to the land of inheritance and began to harvest my spiritual self. In the readings for this week, I hear the Lord leading me out of Egypt with loving, outstretched arms. Without God’s love, I would not be where I am today. The blessings of the day have replaced the pain and suffering of social and personal experiences. Niceness has replaced aggression. Love over hate. Faith over fear. Positivity over negativity. Gratitude over selfishness. Spirituality over pessimism.
In his will, my father listed his three most important things in life: faith, family, and society. My father’s values, reflected in his favorite saying, “nice goes a long way,” are so important to approach the homeless and people with low self-esteem. A kind gesture can give a person a semblance of hope and can open the door to reentry into society. Each person deserves the basic necessities in life, food, and shelter, warmth, and understanding. It is the responsibility of each of us to uplift people in the grips of struggle. A smile, a handshake, any acknowledgment of the presence of somebody in need, can be beneficial. A gesture of kindness can create an epiphany. As spiritual beings and ambassadors for Christ, we are called to help uplift the downtrodden.
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus is tempted, as many of us are, by demons and negative thoughts. These things represent the Devil as he appears to Jesus. God will gather and protect us, just as he stood by my side in times of need. God sees us through addiction, jail, and homelessness, and gathers us as like a shepherd. Now, through Christ our Lord, we must help people in whatever struggles they are in. Humanity, as I see it every day at Brown Bag Lunch, is God’s will: people helping people.
This week, practice gestures of kindness and humanity. One way could be by signing up to volunteer for Trinity’s Sunday Supper on March 17, or by volunteering with Trinity’s Brown Bag Lunch Ministry. See more opportunities in Trinity’s Volunteer Hub.
Mike Florio is a beloved member of the Trinity Church Wall Street community. He regularly attends Bible Study and other activities with Trinity’s New Beginners. Mike can often be found at Trinity’s 12:05 Eucharist service, watching basketball or listening to his favorite band, the Moody Blues.
Each Sunday in Lent, Trinity staff and guests are offering personal takes on the intersection of faith and social justice action. Check back each week for insights into how you can get inspired, involved and make a difference this Lenten season — and beyond!
March 10 readings: Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16, Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-13