The rich man and the poor man meet with one another,
But the Lord made both. (Proverbs 22:2)
A true story.
When I was a young man in my early twenties, I used to go to one of the larger malls in the city. It had three or four floors, and a long escalator. At a nearby coffee shop—not a Tim Hortons as they were not yet a thing—I would order my coffee hot and with cream and sugar. I’d find a table at the edge of the shop and sat at it in such a way that I could observe all the people going up and down the escalator. It truly was a kaleidoscope of humanity.
Different colours of skin, different heights, different body builds, different choices of clothing, shoes, hairstyles (this was the 80s – some were shocking!). Some looked happy, some sad, some angry and disturbed, some seemed in a far-off land. Couples held hands, hugged, even kissed occasionally. Friends playfully went up and down the moving stairs almost like they were dancing. Little tykes apprehensively followed their mothers and fathers onto the escalator clutching their hand so as not to be taken away or eaten by this seemingly monstrous machine.
The mall was downtown. It was gathering place for many of the homeless in the city, for the dealers and addicts, for the lost, and for those chasing authority. The clothes tended to be worn and unclean. The energy in their eyes seemed to be a little darker, the way they stood on the moving ladder seemed a little less dignified. When they entered the mover-machine, others tended to take a step up or wait a little more before taking a step in.
One day, at the bottom, a scraggly bearded trench-coated elderly little man put his hand out to a trimmed short-haired double-breast-suited forty-something-year-old as he entered the people mover. The younger started to pull something out of his pocket and the elder hopped on the stair behind, smiley and chatty. The younger pulled a bill from the side-tucked wallet and just gave it to the elder. Both were talking it up with the other as the elder received from the younger. By the end of the ride, the younger shook the hand of the elder, placing his other hand on his shoulder, and spoke, I assume, words of encouragement. The elder, placing the bill in his pocket, didn’t stop smiling or remove his eyes from the younger for some time.
I had a tear. The kaleidoscope gave a full scope of humanity. Younger. Older. Rich. Poor. The Lord made them both.
St. Augustine writes: “The rich and the poor meet together. In what way, except in this present life? The rich and the poor are born alike. You meet one another as you walk along the way together. The poor must not defraud the rich; the rich must not oppress the poor. The one has need, the other has plenty, but “the Lord is the maker of them both.” The Lord helps the one in need by the one who has; by the one who has not the Lord tests the one who has (Sermon, 35).

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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