too idealistic?

I got free from my oppressive cold yesterday long enough to write to Chico. Then, right after I dropped the letter in the mailbox today, I discovered another letter from him. I'm wanting to support him and Tatiana in their move to a very poor suburb of Chicago, where they have no friends (yet) and few people like them culturally, so it may be harder to find good friends. So I'll probably write again soon.

I'm thinking of commenting on the Christmas newsletter they sent before moving. He wrote about the shepherds receiving the angels' announcement, and how shepherds were the outcasts of their society. I did an advent teaching here on the same topic. Then he told of a camp of homeless people that disappeared one day, near Christmastime. And he imagined that an angel had appeared to them, honoring them like the shepherds, and led them on a journey to see the newborn king. It's a pretty moving story, actually.

I wondered, though, if it was overly idealistic. I agree about the shepherds, but I don't think it's likely that the people from that homeless camp were rejoicing at Christmas. And I wonder if he may have a too idealized image of the poor. When we moved to the Catholic Worker I think we idealized the poor too much, and we were painfully corrected. Maybe I can write something to help him avoid the confusion and disillusionment we experienced.

But this also makes me think of the retreat this past weekend. I think Tom, who has much experience doing retreats with the homeless, probably thought our vision of the poor was too idealized. I presented our understanding of the anawim, as distinct from the poor in general (I wrote about it during our time at the Catholic Worker). But the idea is still that God has chosen these poor, lowly, faithful ones to reveal himself most fully in the world. "My power is made perfect in weakness." And, "God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world..." But I'm sure that's not what Tom has seen mostly. Probably just poor, broken people trying to get a glimpse of God's love for them. And it's a bit inflammatory to say that God specifically choose the poor, the anawim, to reveal himself. Not a message that goes over well with the donors, I imagine. But is it true?

It made me wonder, are we being too idealistic? Will we just be disillusioned again, never actually encountering these anawim? And will the message just confuse our guests and alienate the ministry staff that we hope will work with us?

I hope not. Jesus seemed to dedicate himself to these, and I hope we can too. I don't know how to find them, how to invite them. But I think God wants us to keep trying.