Reflection on Homelessness for Lent

I was asked to provide the weekly reflection on homelessness for the MSA Lenten Guide produced by Dr. Christine Sine.  Here is an excerpt in its unedited form:

“Once more. Who is the judge and the law-giver to whom we are to be accountable at the last? It is God, indeed; but God as present in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the sinful, these are our law-givers. In them God is immanent; in the cry of their struggling spirit His Law is proclaimed, in their deliverance and salvation his will is accomplished.”

-George Tyrrell

Imagine with me, if you will, one day standing before God and being shown the faces of the people in need that we pass by every day in the streets without notice. To be shown the faces in our lives of those that we’ve passed that were starving as we made our way to dinner. Those that were freezing as we walked by snuggled up in our scarves and jackets. Those that had no place for their families to lay their head as we rushed home to enjoy our warm bed and covered roofs with our own families. Those that were hurting and simply needed a friend to talk to as we chatted away on our cell phones, talking about nothing. Those who needed the dignity of being treated as brothers and sisters in Christ as we speed by without making contact on our way to church.

Mother Theresa said, “In the poor we meet Jesus in his most distressing disguises.” I believe she was right. I remember when the movie The Passion of The Christ came out, sitting in the theatre and noticing the vast number of people who turned their heads, averting their gaze during the scourging and crucifixion because it was too dark, too messy, and too uncomfortable for them to imagine Christ like that. I have had the privilege of sitting with homeless friends outside churches on Sunday mornings as vast numbers of parishioners turned their heads, averting their gaze because this image of Jesus can also be a little too dark, too messy, and too uncomfortable for us.

From 1 Corinthians 4:9-13

Sometimes I think God has put us who want to be like him on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die,
on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street.

We’re the Messiah’s misfits.

You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties.

You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around.

Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and hand-me-down clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to try and make a living.

When they call us names when they see us on the streets, when they hassle us for trying to sale newspapers or looking for food, we respond back,

“May God bless you.”

When they spread rumors about us, We put in a good word for them.

We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen. We have become the scum of the earth.


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