Around UST, you can encounter a lot of beggars. From España Blvd. to P. Noval St. to Dapitan St. and Lacson St., you can see children, adults, old ones and even a whole family asking the passer by some money or food. They can be demanding sometimes to the extent of not letting you go away without giving something to them. Have you encountered one? How did you deal with them?
One evening, I and my two classmates had our dinner at Shakeys España. We were seated on a couch near a window. Suddenly, while I was savouring the pizza, a beggar stood near the window asking for some food. He is about 35-40 years old whom I believe physically fit to work in order to have some money to buy a food. So, I just ignored him and continued eating. However, I can sensed even without looking that he was still standing near the window and continued to beg for food. He was too persistent in asking for some food. But still, my stony heart remained and tried my best to ignore him. I was not already able to enjoy my food.
During that time, I remembered a statement from one of my professors back in college which goes “there can be no beggars if no one will give them something.” Before, I used to give coins or some food every time I see a pitiful beggar but his statement changed my perspective towards the beggars. Indeed, giving something to them will reinforce their being too dependent to others. As a matter of fact, there are many beggars who can be physically capable to work and not just to beg around. This negative outlook towards them was heightened further when I heard some news that syndicates used children and the disabled to take advantage. Since then, I feel irritated and annoyed every time I see beggars especially those whom I judged to be capable. I did not dare to drop a single centavo anymore especially when I recall how the peoples in our province, even the elderly who can hardly bend their bodies, work hard in the fields in order to survive.
However, things suddenly changed when my classmates, Kuya Channex and Kuya Japheth, discussed on how we could help the beggar, whether to give our left over or to give some money or just to order additional food for him. Back in my mind, I would like to disagree with their idea of helping but I gave in to their plan. This led me to reflect whether I am right with my negative outlook towards the beggar or they are right in showing compassion and generosity to the beggar.
An idea immediately dawned in my mind: “it is better to err on the side of precaution than to regret because of a false assumption.” It is a fact that I can hardly prove whether a beggar is really in need or he is just taking advantage. Their physical appearance and condition may help me to distinguish their true situation but these will never assure me. There may also come a point when my pride and intellect command me not to be fooled by the beggars. But, what if they are truly in need of our help? What if, because of my stony heart, they die of hunger? There may be some unfortunate instances and grave reasons why they turned into a beggar even though they seemed to be capable of getting employed. I will never know and understand their reasons unless I, myself, experienced what they have gone through. Hence, I have no right to judge them.
I then realized that my negative outlook is wrong. The compassion and generosity shown by my classmates is the true act of a Christian. In dealing with the beggars, it is the act of giving that matters more than the fear of being fooled. If ever I may be deceived, I should not worry because God is never worried of being fooled. Just like what Christ has shown when He was here on earth, He never denied those who asked for help even the sinners. The parable of the prodigal son shows us how. The father showed compassion to his son even after squandering the money he gave him as inheritance. Moreover, our Compassionate Father in heaven is never outdone in generosity. He will even bestow more graces to His children who share their blessings.
I also realized that my parents are actually showing an example of being compassionate. They are not earning very high salaries, but just enough to give us, their children, our needs. There comes a time when our less fortunate relatives and neighbours would come to borrow money or ask other forms of help. As long as there is something that my parents can give, they will give or lend it to them. Most of the times, some would return the borrowed money later than the promised date while others would even forget to return them. My parents just let them go and they will just say to themselves that it will be just their help to them. Even my elder sister would sometimes tend to abuse my parents. Even they know that she is just making up some reasons and even after telling her that it will be her last chance, they still show compassion and help my sister. They say “no matter what she does, she is still our daughter and maybe she is really in need.” Every time I hear this, I can’t hold on my tears from falling. I am really amazed by their compassion. This gradually inspires me to extend my help to the needy. I feel so sorry for the times I ignored the beggars.
As to the beggar who was asking for food, we were not able to give our left over because nothing was left. We decided not to give money because he might just use it to buy for his vice like rugby or liquor. But, we ordered a food for him. That beggar surely had a banquetous meal.
I am truly grateful to the beggar, to Kuya Channex and Kuya Japheth for being an instrument of reminding and inspiring me to have a compassionate heart. Thank You Lord.