Are We Passing Jesus By At Walmart?

I was wondering about this…are we missing an opportunity to serve Jesus in the poor when we ignore persons at the parking lot entrance who stand their panhandling, or are we just being prudent? I’ve been questioning what our behavior ought to be here in light of The Last Judgement at the end of Matthew’s gospel.

If you have a large surplus of money, then by all means give some of it to homeless people you see on the streets as well as to charities. If you are afraid of them spending it on drugs or whiskey then at least purchase a cheap meal for them.

The people who need financial help the most may not the people begging in the Walmart parking lot.

Tough call. I saw a guy pan handling out side the front of Walmart. Turns out he was waiting for the rest of his family as they were buying a (really big) flat screen TV. :mad:

Every now and then news does investigative reports on these people (start at 2:00)

Not saying everybody is like that, of course, just saying I’d give to charity first. It’s your business and your call.

Pax †

I was at a Sondra Abrahams talk at my old church in D/FW sometime between 2003-2005’ish. She said she had had a NDE in 1970 where she clinically died, and had experiences with Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Jesus, Mary, and St. Michael. And some of her experiences are ongoing. So she travels and lectures about those experiences and lessons at churches.

Anyhow, one of her anecdotes was something about being fearful of giving money to a panhandler because she didn’t know he wouldn’t waste the money on alcohol or drugs or something. The answer she got back was that the charity she performs for others is between her and God; how they use or misuse that charity and those opportunities is between the recipient and God. So she’s able to do her part, without worrying about the worthiness of the individual on the other end. I think a second point was along the lines of “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

We all like to be effective and efficient with our gifts. We don’t like our gifts to be squandered. Or disregarded or not appreciated. Or thrown away because they weren’t what was wanted. Especially when we’re giving from our poverty, and not from our surplus. So that’s why people are inclined to not be personal in their charity— they prefer to donate through official organizations. But if you want to reach out personally— that’s great, as long as you don’t mind being a fool for Christ.

In my opinion, whether or not you actually give money to such person’s isn’t nearly as important as the spirit with which you act. If you look at such people in disgust and make assumptions about them, you’re really not treating them with love, even if you give them $100. I’ve actually seen a man chuck some bills at a panhandler and shout at her in an angry voice that she was stupid slut and needed to take her panhandling out of “his” neighborhood! Whereas, if you look at them with compassion, smile at them, pray for them, and consider their presence as an opportunity to remind yourself that the poor exist and we have a responsibility to help them when we can, you’re further ahead even if you don’t give them any money at that time.


It is hard, but I am trying to make eye contact and smile with the people I see panhandling even if I don’t have any money or don’t feel comfortable giving them money.

Next month when I get our monthly cash out for our everyday expenses, I’m going to take some of it and buy a couple gift cards to places within walking distance of common panhandling spots. Then I can ask someone, “Are you hungry? Can you use this?”

This is what we do a lot of times in our parish outreach, instead of giving people money we give them gift cards. To a local grocery store or a business like subway or Wendy’s or something…

But trust me they can find a way to turn anything, including gift cards into money for drugs. The real question is, are you going to deny someone charity because you are afraid that they might misuse it? Then a follow up question, how would God look at the situation? As you doing a good thing and them misusing it, or as you giving to someone money for drugs???

My favorite St when it comes to charity is St Vincent de Paul. Do a little reading on him, I think you will find your answer…

Around here, they stand beside exit ramps panhandling. I usually give them something, as long as I have the extra to give, sometimes though, I cannot afford to give anything.

This is very good food for thought. I am not super familiar with St. Vincent de Paul, although I’ve donated to the charitable organization named for him before.

I do have concerns about carrying extra cash or how a straight cash donation could be used by someone. I figure a gift card to a local place - McDonald’s or Walmart, etc. is at least going to involve an extra step to misuse the money. But that gift card is also just as good as cash when it comes to getting a sandwich or buying clean socks.

I don’t think it’s wrong at all to make a donation of cash if that’s what you have and that’s the difference between giving and not giving. I just know that if I found out later that I helped pay for the overdose that killed someone, I’d be devastated.

Maybe it’s not the “perfect” mindset, but I am feeling more and more convicted that doing nothing is not OK, and I need to get more comfortable ministering directly to those in need, rather than simply donating to the food pantry or other groups. Otherwise, what kind of example am I setting for my children? What am I teaching them to think about the needy?

I think buying a gift card is an excllent way. It is a good idea to always be ready to intervene in some good way. Having gift cards like McDonalds with you allows one to help when the situation arises.

I would not say that I would never give money to a person who asked, but I would say that generally, I would hand out money less than one time for every 10 people that asked.

Just my personal testimony, it is deeply rewarding to go and help prepare and serve meals at a “soup kitchen”. We fulfill Jesus stern request at the end of Matthew to do some good to Him when we are able. Mother Theresa said, it is not “as if” we are serving Christ, we are serving Christ in the poor. (Matthew, end of chapter 25)

Around me, they are often found by exit ramps. I am happy to give them whatever I can. I usually add a ‘God bless’ to my offering. Most of the people I see have been homeless for a long time (9 moths or more). A few I see only once.


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