by Ryan Carlin, LC
Ed Sheeran’s song “A Team” tells the story of a young lady who has gotten caught in a drug addiction which has subsequently driven her onto the streets. She spends her day begging and when this is not enough to meet her needs she ends up selling herself to bring in the needed cash. In the music video we follow “Angel” as she wonders the streets of a major city begging for alms and we are given the chance to see her through Ed’s eyes which are able to take in the hidden moments of innocence and vulnerability that reveal the true young lady hidden behind the rough facade of a street girl.
(For my full commentary on this great song and video please check out A Team by Ed Sheeran at MusicInsideU.com)
This hits pretty close to home for me since here in Rome you can’t walk anywhere without coming across beggars and prostitutes looking for cash. Being as I am dressed as a priest they all obviously turn to me hoping for alms which I can never give them since I have taken a vow of poverty and have just as much as they do. To be honest this troubled me for a long time since I knew I had to do something more than only pray for them (which is actually the best thing I can do for them, but I just knew I was also supposed to do something else too). Praying about this the Lord led me to Acts 3: 3-7 to show me what he wanted me to do.
In this passage (Acts of the Apostles 3: 3-7) the Apostles Peter and John are on their way to the temple to pray when they meet a lame beggar who asks them for alms. They also have no alms to offer him but they stop, look him in the eyes, and heal him from his sickness in the name of Christ. Now, I am not St Peter or St John and I have not made any cripple walk, but I have also seen the power of Christ’s love do its healing work in souls when we allow it to flow through us.
On my normal route through Rome there is a young lady we will call Maria (all names in this story are changed for the privacy of those involved) whose life situation is very much like that of Angel from Ed Sheeran’s song. Every time I passed her she always asked me for alms and I had to apologize that I had nothing to give her as I hurried on to wherever I was headed. However, one day the Holy Spirit stopped me and asked me for something more. I stopped, looked her in the eyes, chatted with her for a few moments, and in short treated her like the beloved daughter of the King that she is rather than as the annoyance or object of pleasure that she has become accustomed to believe herself to be from the way the majority of people treat her.
In that brief moment that I stopped to talk with her I saw a new light flicker and begin to grow in her eyes. It was only a brief moment, but it was the moment that the Holy Spirit needed in order to do His healing work in her soul. If you meet Maria on the streets of Rome now she is different than most of the other street people, she actually smiles and will meet your eyes when you speak to her. I still see her there begging whenever I pass down that street of the Eternal City, but she is no longer the beaten creature that I first met for a new light has taken flame and is slowly doing its work from within as she begins to recognize who she truly is and this allows her to spread her wings.
And Maria is not the only one either. I am also seeing God’s grace working in Pietro, Mateo, Francesca, and Nicholas as the Holy Spirit allows me to be His instrument in re-kindling His flame in each of them.
And so my question to each of you is this: what “Angels” has the Holy Spirit placed in your path and what is He asking you to do to help them? Maybe it is to give them alms, maybe it is simply a smile, but what I am certain of is that through you He wants to restore to them their dignity as daughters and sons of the King. How will you help re-ignite His flame in each of them?
Photo Credit: AngelAteam