As Jesus remarked to Judas Iscariot, ‘You always have the poor with you’ (John 12:8). Looking around at the cities, towns and refugee camps of our world, we might make this remark more specific and say, ‘we always have the homeless with us.’ Jesus had some powerful things to say about the situation of the homeless, and did many things for them. He was, at many times in his life here, also a homeless person himself.
What we should do: We should do what we can. We can’t solve the whole problem but we can help one person out. We can help a family out. It is painful, whether we think it is or not. Jesus challenges us to make a difference. We should do it today.
Jesus: one of the homeless
Jesus did not start life at home or in a hospital. He was born in a stable and his crib was an eating trough for animals. That’s how his life began, as a homeless baby, born to parents who were sleeping rough. He had hardly come into the world when Mary and Joseph took him across the border to escape the murderous intentions of King Herod the Great. Jesus became a baby on the run, a homeless asylum-seeker in Egypt.
During the years when he was growing up in Nazareth, Jesus did enjoy a home to live in. But, once he was baptized by John and began his public ministry, he became again a homeless person. Speaking about himself as ‘the Son of Man’, he said: ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’ (Matt 8:20; Luke 9:58). Foxes can be safe because they live in warm burrows down in the earth; birds can be safe and sound in their nests, high up in trees: but Jesus did not have that kind of safety and security. He had no home he could call his own, no fixed dwelling where he could lay his head on a pillow and go to sleep at night. He lived his life out in the open, sometimes alone and sometimes sleeping rough at night.
At the end, Jesus did not die at home or in a hospital, being supported by the kind of care that dying people can expect. He died by slow torture as a kind of barbarous entertainment for curious spectators. Who is more homeless than a person nailed up on a cross? Jesus had been stripped of his clothes to die in agony, with no home, no possessions, no bank account and hardly a friend within sight.
In his own particular way, Jesus was born, lived and died as a homeless person, the brother and friend of all homeless people and of all refugees and asylum seekers.
What should we do? Feed, care, love, give money to as many as we personally can. Jesus called us, as individuals, to do what we can. It adds up. It beats the government programs, without trouble.
Faith at Work: At our places of, we can galvanize others to be of help. Our mission is to love everyone, including the homeless. In fact, in particular, the homeless. Some of our colleagues are homeless. We may not know it. We should.