David, homeless in Chicago, and Father General: where is the link?

By RJ Jacobs, SJ | Scholastic of the USA East Province, in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago

“It’s David, right? How are you?”

“I’m glad to see you all! I’m doing okay. I can’t complain. My mother once told me that complaining only makes things worse. It’s so good to see you guys. Have you got anything to eat?”

“Your mother sounds like she was a very wise woman. And sure, we’ve got hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What would you like?”

It had been several weeks since our Labre ministry group had encountered David on the streets of downtown Chicago. Labre ministry offers Loyola University Chicago students, and me, Jesuit scholastic, a weekly opportunity to form relationships with individuals experiencing homelessness in the heart of our city. In our last encounter, David had been in good spirits even though he was going through some challenging times. During this most recent visit, David recognized us as we approached him on the street. One of us had immediately addressed him by name, and from that point forward our conversation seemingly picked up from where it had ended weeks before.


As we were getting ready to say goodbye, David asked us to pray with him. As we bowed our heads and recited the Our Father together, I felt connected to David and the students I was accompanying in a special way. We were bonded together in solidarity, brothers and sisters in Christ who were graced in that moment to call upon our Heavenly Father with voices united in praise and supplication. We eventually parted ways with smiles on our faces and in gratitude for one another.

I thought about David a few days later, after Father General Arturo Sosa had visited Chicago and spoke with us, men in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago. During our audience with him, Father Sosa spoke of the importance of the first UAP: showing the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment. As he was describing this UAP, what caught my attention was how he emphasized the manner in which “showing the way to God” is expressed. Father Sosa stated that showing the way to God comes through how we live our spiritual lives– as Jesuits and as Christians.


As I reflected on these words, I thought about my encounters with Christ through the varied faces of the poor, vulnerable, and excluded on the streets of Chicago. I thought about the mutuality inherent to these encounters – with David and many others – in which God reveals God’s self in the presence of the other person. During this most recent encounter with David, he showed our Labre group the way to God with the interior joy and hope he kept alive as a result of his Christian faith. We, too, had desired to provide him with a reminder of God’s providential care as we gave him the gift of loving presence. As I reflect back on that moment, I felt that our mutual witness to one another’s spiritual lives – lives rooted in addressing God as Father and seeing each other as brothers and sisters in Christ – strengthened each one of us.

Let us pray that we may live spiritual lives as Father Sosa suggests, inspired by the Spiritual Exercises and in cooperation with God’s abundant grace. And may God cultivate our hearts such that they are always open to encounter with others, most especially with those on the margins and peripheries of our society.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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