They are a different type of homeless. They are a different type of beggars-- truly begging. Growing up in Southern California, there is a lot of homelessness, but they are almost invisible. They are predictable. We know where they are, what they want, how the ask for money, where they live, and most depressingly-how to avoid them. But the homeless in Prague, Czech Republic are something else. They kneel, head bowed, hands outstretched, almost crying.
I was on my return trip from World Youth Day, in Krakow, Poland, where Pope Francis called each of the 3 million youth to do more works of Mercy--works of kindness. I was a group leader and was given 2 cheap prepaid cell phones, but after WYD I had no use for them I decided I would sell them and give the money to someone poor. I then realized that I would not be able to get as much for the phones as a local might, so why not just give this particular homeless-man the cell phone itself?
Before I even put it in his hands he was thanking me--he was expecting a few coins. When he felt the plastic, he instantly looked up at me with piercing blue eyes and exclaimed "tele-phono?!" I nodded and walked away, as I looked back, he was shouting to a friend of his down the street, holding the phone in the air as if it was a million-dollar lottery ticket. After this encounter, I love giving to the poor and homeless. Because while something might be worth nothing to us, it might be worth a million dollars to someone else.
"I desire mercy, not sacrifice"