I recently watched the movie Entertaining Angels – The Dorothy Day Story. I was mildly entertained by this movie until the very end in which the final scenes gripped my heart as I saw the passion that burns within my soul portrayed on the screen in a story of this woman who did so much for the poor and hurting souls.
Near the end of this movie, Dorothy feels betrayed and abandoned by her team of workers as they shared they had reached their breaking point from being overwhelmed and under-resourced as they served food and sheltered the homeless. She leaves them and enters a church, calling out to God, “Where are you!?” and continues to dialog in a prayer, pouring out her heart, broken, spent and confused. She leaves the church, resigned to be done doing His work.
Late at night, she returns to the shelter and happens upon a female patron who was an alcoholic, stealing the shelter’s stash of money. Chasing her to the door, she blocks her way. The woman grabs a cane and begins to beat her trying to get her out of the way. Out of defense and anger, Dorothy grabs the cane away from her. The woman falls and Dorothy holds it up to strike the woman, and she stops. You sense the revelation inside of her and she begins to speak to the woman with gentle kindness and love, although the woman screams that she can’t mean what she is saying because she is unlovable. Sobbing the woman relents and Dorothy simply holds her.
During the commotion her team is awoken and they begin to come out. After taking care of the sobbing woman, Dorothy addresses her team in a beautiful speech. She apologizes for her pride and renews her commitment to love the unlovable. She shares that their ideals of their mission is never going to look like what she or any of the team would like it to look like, and they will never be able to live up to those expectations, but that God will not hold that against them. Instead they are only to be faithful and to do just their part in what God is calling them to do.
Dorothy Day put love into action. She responded to God’s prompting.
Her story makes me think about how we sometimes comfort ourselves in the knowledge that if we fail to listen to God’s prompting within our hearts that God will use someone or something else to meet that need.
We see someone hurting, or in need, and we tell them, “I’ll be praying for you” and we may carry through with it and cover them in a prayer, but are we too quick to dismiss HIS prompting to do something? We think, “I would help them, but I just don’t have the time right now, or I’m doing enough, my plate is full or it’s not my place to step in. I’ll pray that God will call someone to help them.”
And sometimes that is what God chooses to allow to happen, and someone else is blessed with the act of serving and touching their life in a meaningful way.
But…sometimes that is not what happens. He called on you to act, to move. And do not fool yourself… just as innocent people suffer the consequences from the actions of other people’s sin, so do innocent people suffer from our inactivity, from us not following God’s prompting in our hearts and minds.
You not responding can cause further suffering on the hurting, those that feel unlovable.
The reason God tells us so many times to love each other is because we learn that we, our beings, our very selves are lovable or unlovable from other people.
“It is people who are important, not the masses.”
“Don't worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.”
I John3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
- Sue Parrott