James 2:14-17

Four years ago, I decided to get a spiritual director. All the cool ministers have one. I thought it would be like having an inexpensive therapist who prays. We would light candles and burn incense. I would talk about my goals and feelings. When I was frustrated my director would assure, “You are a gifted minister. God loves you and I do, too.” At ministerial gatherings I would say, “My spiritual director and I were just talking about that.” 

My spiritual director, Father Joe, is a Franciscan monk. I am disappointed that he never lights a candle, but he is a good listener. He has one annoying habit. Sometimes when I share my feelings, he will suddenly—without warning—start talking about people who struggle with homelessness. His congregation, St. Francis of Assisi Church, is in Midtown Manhattan. I will be complaining about church politics and he will bring up a man who slept on the steps of the church: “Roberto hurt his back while working construction and hasn’t been able to work in three years.” I find his digressions into how to care for the poor disconcerting, but my spiritual director will not stop talking about the people he knows who are homeless. 

Father Joe thinks that because I am part of Christ’s church I should do more than learn the right words. He believes that talking about faith is nonsense if it makes no difference in how we care for the siblings who need our help. 

I would like to believe that spirituality is thinking deep thoughts, but it is not. Spirituality is providing a cup of a soup and a place to stay. Some of us walk past those who are homeless every day. Real faith leads us to stop, listen, and share what we have to give.


Who needs your help?


God, lead me to a faith that is more than the words I speak. Amen.

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