A difference

Today, I am wearing my clerical collar to work. Frankly, it has more to do with undone laundry rather than any particular ecclesial responsibility I have today.
I was walking from Penn. station to the Medical Trust and came near one of the hundreds of people passing out hand-bills for this or that restaurant or bodega. He was a Latin-American Indian, as are most. All the implications of strange cultures and languages and customs come to bear on anyone who is a foreigner (this was made all the more apparent to me when I lived in Europe).
He was standing back against the wall of a building and not handing out many hand-bills as I approached. He saw me, or perhaps he saw a white clerical collar on this person who was approaching, and came forward to give me a hand-bill. It was obvious that he approached this collared person and not all the other people passing by him. How could I not take it, even though I knew I was not going to go to this particular restaurant-bodega? I thanked him and went on my way.
People notice. People have impressions of those in white collars, whether good or bad impressions. What are we all, we who call ourselves Christians and more particularly those who have entered Holy Orders, doing in our everyday lives that add to the sense of honor and trust of those who wear such collars so that the people feel safe coming to us, as this young guy did with me – this person in white clerical collar – in the midst of hundreds of other Mid-town people? What are we doing that may cause people to avoid us, to revile us, to mistrust us?
This is the responsibility of the clergy – to be holy even as Christ was/is holy despite the fact that we will fail more often than not. We who are the representatives of Christ on earth have this high-calling to put aside ourselves and take upon ourselves the Cross, so that when people see someone in a clerical collar they know that they are safe and free to approach us, even in confession, even in a plea for help, even in passing out a hand-bill when one is shy or afraid. This is what it means to be one who points to God.