Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Meeting the man of sorrows in a parking lot

By LORRAINE MURRAY, Commentary | Published July 7, 2023

I went to the grocery store to pick up two items. The car’s air-conditioner poured out icy air to protect me from the heavy heat of summer. How delighted I was to see a parking space right in front of the store. This was surely my lucky day.   

As I exited the car, I noticed a figure approaching, almost blocking my way. Nervously, I looked up and glimpsed a face that was at once pitiful, shocking, terrifying and tragic. Without saying a word, the man turned and walked into the parking lot. He was extremely thin and limping.  

There’s a lovely song “I Saw God Today” about a man who meets his infant daughter at the hospital for the first time. He falls thoroughly in love with her, and the whole world seems different when he walks outside. Seeing God in the eyes of an infant isn’t that difficult. The baby is completely innocent, trusting, open and untouched by the world’s darkness and evil. Since God entered our world as a sweet, tender baby, then in a sense every baby is Jesus all over again.  

But Jesus didn’t live merely as a baby untouched by the dark evils of our world. He also lived as a man who met the deepest, most demonic aspects of humanity, when he was killed by the people he had been sent to love. He wasn’t, however, killed in a quick moment like John the Baptist, who was beheaded. Instead, he had his clothing torn off, he was spat upon and he was wounded from head to toe with a whip. His was a death preceded by torture.  

I don’t usually think of Jesus this way. I usually think of him as the tender baby and then as the Risen Christ, who cooked for his friends on the shore. But on that day when I went to the grocery store, there wasn’t any choice. 

The man I encountered had eyes that seemed to burn holes in his face. The eyes were charged with accusation, rejection and pain—and something else I couldn’t quite figure out. The man was hunched over and was pushing a cart containing his meager possessions. His mouth was open and he had many teeth missing. I couldn’t help but wonder whether they had been lost in a fight, because this was a man of the streets, who would have to fend off thieves trying to steal his stuff.  

He didn’t ask me for anything, which made my heart even heavier than it already was. Perhaps he’d been warned not to beg by the management of the store. The eyes, however, said everything—they were pleading and desperate. The words from Isaiah came to mind: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” 

In the store, I turned to the woman who had entered behind me. “Did you see him?” I asked her. “Did you see his face?” She looked stricken: “Yes. It’s terrible.” My eyes were stinging with tears. “We can pray for him,” I suggested and she agreed.  

Then I went and purchased the items I’d come for, but found myself hurrying because I planned to give him some money. He didn’t have to ask for it. It would be ludicrous to pretend he didn’t need something.  

When I left the store, I looked all around for him, but didn’t see him anywhere. I promised myself that next time, I would have money ready for him. He seemed like the kind of man people despise and shun. I guess, in my own way, I got a glimpse of God that day.

Lorraine is the author of eight books, including a trilogy of mysteries, “Death in the Choir,” “Death of a Liturgist” and “Death Dons a Mask.” Artwork is by her late husband, Jef ( Her email address is