Roughly a mile and a half south of St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City is a Taco Bueno in the downtown area. It is also the area where the Rescue Mission for the homeless and those seeking temporary shelter gather also.
On a warm autumn day following our classes and group sessions on the Human Restoration ward with two dozen behaviorally disturbed adolescents, Cindy Finley, Gwen Henry, Bobbie Hildebrand and I stopped into the Taco Bueno to get a quick lunch before returning to the unit. No sooner than we were seated when an old, thin, weak looking man boldly approach us. Holding out his trembling hands he asked for just enough money to buy himself a little something to eat at this neat, well kept restaurant.
Before I could reach in my pocket to give him any loose change I had, Cindy Finley produced a small black, rosary looking purse and emptied about a dozen or more quarters into the old man’s opened, shaking hand. “I give you this, sir, in the name of Jesus Christ. Please, sir, go and enjoy your meal,” she said. As the old man thanked Cindy, he immediately walked over to the counter to order a meal.
“Well that’s that for this day!” Cindy responded.
“What was that all about,” I and the rest of our party asked.
“Oh, this is my St. Therese alms purse I bought from the St. Anthony hospital gift shop. Though I’m not Catholic I got the idea from a booklet I got from there about St. Therese’s life. When Therese was a young girl, so the story goes, she and members of her family carried an alms purse for those who were in need. And since she carried coins in her little purse, I decided to do the same thing. I thought it is a great idea. I also learned that it is not how much the gift is that really matters but the spreading of God’s love to those in need. It can be food, gasoline the need to make a telephone call, or whatever.
The next day, I went out to get a St. Therese’s alms purse that I carry to this day for myself to share God’s love with others to make everyday, if necessary, Christmas for those who need a little help. For as Cindy and Therese say, it is not the size of the gift but the love of God extended to His children in need.