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THERE IS A SIGN on the back of a door at the St. Francis Inn. It is a picture of a smiley face and it says, "Smile, Jesus is at the door." At first it struck me as pious nonsense, but the truth of that sign has hit me many times while serving.
When I first got to the Inn, I was particularly aware of who was poor and who was not. It was very much an "us and them" mentality. There were clearly defined lines between the guests who came to eat and those of us serving them — the non-poor. Of course, these lines were only in my mind.
This attitude was slowly broken down by daily life at the Inn. Sometimes, we were so short-handed when meal time came, that we recruited some of the guests to serve the meal. When I started listening to their stories, I realized, that save a different upbringing, we were not much different. Hearing the stories of Sean, who has an addiction and is trying desperately to get in a rehabilitative program, or of Catherine's struggle to find a good job to provide for her children, or even of Harry who is extremely mentally challenged, forced me to identify with them. Seeing how they suffer, I began to see the suffering Christ in them.
It is true they are Christ. When the bell rings at the Inn, Jesus is at the door. In fact, I realized, while organizing people in the yard, that there is no separation between them and me. I realized they are my sisters and brothers. They are family in Christ.
• L.J., Wilmington '03−'04, Philadelphia '04−'05
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