A homeless old man pushes a bicycle across a bridge on this beautiful spring morning. Tied to it are bundles of plastic, clothes and everything he owns in this wretched universe. He leaves all of his possessions and his bicycle leaning on the bridge to walk down to a public toilet near the riverbank. He shuffles along in ragged clothes, invisible to the people walking and cycling past him. Unseen to everyone but me. Am I seeing a ghost?
I see him clearly, an old broken man, abandoned by his family and his friends, abandoned by the people of his nation. His feet are shod with dirty old sneakers, and a worn backpack hangs on his exhausted shoulders. His arms lie limp on his sides. Once he was a strong, hard-working man, perhaps he worked as a manual labourer or in an office, one of the millions of men who added to the GDP of this country, one of the richest in the world. But some misfortune came upon him and those whose duty it was to care for him, have discarded him like a pair of used chopsticks.
In a country so stupendously rich that it has spent billions on the 2020 Olympics, there is not one person who will provide a warm room, adequate food, and clean clothes for this poor old man. The suffering of this man is enough for God to send down the harshest of all punishments upon the human race, for in every nation, there are discarded people like him shuffling their sick tired bodies in cities brimming with riches no human before the 21st century could have imagined.
I wanted to give him money, but I had no money on my person because I was jogging. I ran slowly past him, then paused and turned around to see what he looked like, to get a good view of a face everyone avoids gazing into. But I could only see his eyes, part of his cheeks and his lips because the hood of his dirty jacket covered his head against the cold morning air. His old eyes squinted in the bright sun. He looked past me. At what? He seemed not to see me. I was a ghost to him. His eyes refused to meet mine. Perhaps he had been hurt so many times looking at eyes that looked back at him with disgust. On that morning, he could not stand the pain of another pair of eyes, not after a terribly cold night.
I had no money to give him. All I had at that moment were my prayers. I offered to pray the Rosary, 15 decades, for him. I begged St. Joseph, whose feast day it was, to find him a home, clothes, medical care and love. I prayed to Our Lord to relieve him of his suffering in this life and to allow his suffering in this world to expiate all of his sins, so that, upon his death, he may be carried into heaven by angels, to have peace and joy for eternity.