The City of No – that sure doesn’t sound like a happening place. It doesn’t sound like a city on the move . Sounds more like a place with very little opportunity. Sounds like a place where needs go unmet and dreams go unfulfilled.
Until 2010, http://www.cityofno.com was the official web address for the New Orleans city government. Mayor Mitch Landrieu quickly changed the web address to http://www.nola.gov soon after he was elected to office. He referenced this fact in his recent State of the City speech.
John* struggled as he walked through the food line at Ozanam Inn. The grimace on his
face hinted of his degenerative disc problem. John was grateful for the plate of food, but he couldn’t take the cup of lemonade that I offered. It was all he could do to shuffle through the line carrying his plate. As I watched him find a spot to eat, I was overwhelmed with compassion.
After John finished eating, I went out to talk with him and hear his story. I’ve heard quite a few sad stories from homeless men and women. Some stories seem true, but others do not. John’s story is sad, maybe not the saddest I’ve heard, and I’m convinced that his story is true.
One of the highlights of my week is serving food to the homeless and underprivileged on Wednesdays at Ozanam Inn. I learn something new each week as I serve beside other Christians and as I interact with people who come to eat.
We don’t serve out of pity. Pity would be the wrong approach. Rather than pity, we try to offer dignity, love and hope. Pity keeps people at arms length; love let’s them into our lives. Pity doesn’t view them as equals, love sees them as people created in the image of God. Pity has easy formulas for explaining hunger and homelessness. Love helps us see that there are no easy fixes, no easy answers for the problems these people encounter. Pity is not our approach.