looking beyond the dreadlocks

It was Divine Mercy Sunday. I had just finished hearing confessions at a parish about an hour from home. The gas gauge in my car read “E” – the red side of “E”.

So I pulled up at the first gas station I saw and reached for my wallet. But it wasn’t there! I had left it at home.

Luckily for me, there was quite a collection of change in the cup holder in the car. I counted it out – two dollars and eighteen cents in assorted pennies, nickels, quarters and dimes. Probably not enough to get home, but it might get me close, and then I could call for help. As I walked to the register, change in hand, there were all sorts of people about filling up their cars, but I noticed one man with fluffy dreadlocks in particular. “Wow,” I thought inside.

Feeling embarrassed about all the coins, I asked the lady at the register if she didn’t mind taking it all. She said she’d make do. Then, as I poured the coins into her little dish, I heard a voice over my shoulder. “Need some gas money?”

I turned, and gave a double take. It was the man with the fluffy dreadlocks. I hesitated and gave a whispered “Yes.” Immediately he took some money from his hand – enough to get me home – and placed it in my hand.

At this the cashier cheered up, as you can imagine I did. “Thank you,” I said. The man just nodded and smiled.

As soon as I got back to the car and started pumping the gas, I started searching for something to give him in gratitude. All I could find was a picture of the cross of Saint Francis blessed by Pope Francis. (Which I guess isn’t that bad a gift!) I brought it over to the man and he accepted it graciously, but humbly.

And I was left with two lessons. First, what a beautiful image of how kind and selfless and caring Our good Lord is and how he watches out for us! Second, it was a concrete lesson of how silly it is to judge by appearances. The man with the fluffy dreadlocks was the last one I thought would have helped me – he was the kind of person I would have stayed away from. But the Lord “sees the heart”. Unlike us.

Well now I know. The heart is what matters. And this man had a heart of gold.


About Fr Kevin McKenzie LC

Fr Kevin McKenzie LC comes from Saint Louis, Missouri from a family of nine. He spent the last five years studying Philosophy and Theology in Rome. Ordained a priest in December, he now helps as chaplain at a small Catholic school in Cincinnati, and on the weekends directs retreats for boys in southeastern Indiana.
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