He was a regular. We cashed his royalty checks from oil companies and tried to dole out just enough for him to live on week by week but he would eventually demand the entire amounts and end up in bad shape before the next set of checks arrived. He claimed to be an artist and yet every picture that he painted looked like him. A mirror image of himself and yet he called the man Jesus. My mother was constantly and consistently giving him her time to talk and to encourage his art. We gave him the occasional food or drink but we all knew he wanted the money to get himself in trouble again. She believed in him. And, even if she didn't, really, she made him think she did. It gave him self worth, confidence. I see today from the reading in Matthew that just as he saw the image of himself as Jesus, she too saw Jesus within him.
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me."
He was a Catholic and she encouraged him to attend morning Mass and receive the Living Bread. We gave him water. She welcomed him every single time even when the rest of us were tired of his constant hanging around. She covered him in the garment of self respect and she cared for him when he was at the bottom. He was a man imprisoned in his own world that few would attempt to visit and yet she was always there. She bought him glasses when he complained about his poor eyesight and she bought him bus tickets when his shoes were so worn it was difficult to walk. She listened when he spoke wildly and his eyes belonged to someone entirely different and when they were as clear as any normal man's would be.
Today, as I listened to the Gospel and later meditated on it's meaning in my small little world, I remembered Paul and more than the man himself, I remembered the example that my mother gave as she took the opportunity placed before her day after day. The authentic Christian lives the Gospel message. She took time. She gave time. She fed. She clothed. She was a mother to him. Today, I remember the example. I remember the least. I remember clearly the face of Christ.