“Are you hungry?” He asked. I heard his words faintly – carried in my open window by a breeze on a surprisingly warm January day.
I turned to discover it was the voice of the young man who had walked in front of my car just moments earlier. Clad in a black Nike pullover with matching joggers and shoes, his companions were two dogs that pulled him along as if they had something important to show him.
“Typical millennial,” I thought when I saw him then. It was a sight I’ve seen many times. A well-coordinated young professional walking his dogs as the sun peaked through high-rise buildings in the downtown of some Midwestern city. From Chicago to Indianapolis to Columbus to today in Cincinnati, millennials – and I count myself among them – seem to have a love affair with four paws traipsing across concrete jungles.
“Are you hungry?” he asked again, my eyes resting on the woman he questioned. She was enveloped in a coat three times her size with matted hair and dirty pants holding a cardboard sign I couldn’t read but could guess what it said.
My infant son was squeaking in the back seat as music from the car behind us poured into my open window. A pleasant looking older man in a North Face walked briskly past our car carrying a white pastry bag from Starbucks, the kind that is typically filled with those sweetbreads I eat too many of. Maybe it was a breakfast sandwich or a cake pop. The latter would have been daring for this early in the morning, but I can’t say it’s something I’ve never done before.
“Are you hungry?” He asked a third time. I think she answered him, but I couldn’t hear what she said.
The night before our priest preached a beautiful sermon about what it means to follow Jesus. It was a familiar Gospel, the one where Jesus walks by and calls Simon, Andrew, John and James to be his disciples. “Come after me,” Jesus said. “And I will make you fishers of men.”
“Little did they know what was to come,” I thought then. But that wasn’t the point, as our priest pointed out. They dropped everything and followed. That also meant they put everything on the shoulders of Jesus. What would they eat? What would they wear? Where would they sleep? “Do not worry about those things,” Jesus said later on, “learn from the way the wildflowers grow.”
Jesus was a father, brother, provider, teacher, and friend to his disciples. He asked the question, “Will you follow me?” which in my mind, on that day, as I stared at the man in the Nike pullover and the woman with dirty pants, sounded a lot like the question, “Are you hungry?”
The traffic light turned green, I heard the radio again, the chatter of my son and the voice of my wife asking, “What did he say?” as we drove away.
“He asked her if she was hungry,” I responded.
“What did she say?’ My wife asked.
“I hope she said yes,” I said, hoping I would say the same.