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When He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food…” He was speaking across time and space to all of us. As a Vincentian Family, we can see His face in every person who waits in line for our daily meal, in the faces of the homeless who come to us for shelter and those who hope that our pharmacy can ease their suffering. When we help someone, like the people in the photos – a little boy in need, an elderly woman at our Dining Room, or an older couple seeking help with their life-sustaining medications – we are extending His hand to them.
These are just a few of the hundreds who visit our St. Vincent de Paul campus every day in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and every person is another opportunity to share God’s love. It’s no accident that their paths and ours have crossed. They are a part of our spiritual journey, and we are a part of theirs. As we enter the Easter Season, we are reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made, and of those who followed in His footsteps so long ago. For them, weakness and doubt became unshakeable faith. They went forward – even unto death – in their roles as disciples, continuing His ministry on earth.
As modern day disciples, our challenge is to transform God’s blessings into a visible sign of His presence in our world today. We are His physical body on earth, and everything we do can be a reflection of His love. Our journey through life is not always easy. Sometimes the road is steep, and there is no way of knowing what waits for us around the next corner. Regardless of the path we take, Jesus is always with us.
Make Christ’s ministry to the homeless a part of your spiritual journey!
The archive of our live chat on Homelessness is at http://mobile.vinfamily.org/live-chat-4122012/.
Let us never forget that over 2000 years ago, a homeless man changed the world. “I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.” These words remind us of our responsibility to make the Gospel come to life. As a Vincentian Family, we see the face of Christ in every person we serve. Without our Vincentian efforts, how easy it would be for some of the homeless to just give up – to lose all hope. As you continue your personal spiritual journey, consider how you can give hope to the most despairing among us.
Homelessness is bitter beyond words. Yet we dare to hope when we remember this:
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:19-23)
How many times have you passed a crumbling house with peeling paint, an old car with smoke boiling from the exhaust, or a child in ragged clothing and thought, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I”? How many times have we all said a prayer of gratitude for our parents? How fortunate we were as children to have warm clothing, nourishing food and a roof over our heads. Can you imagine growing up homeless?
Parents love their children, guide them, protect them and make countless sacrifices to provide for them. But for some parents, love and hard work are not enough to protect their families. An accident, illness or lost job can turn their lives upside down. A mother’s greatest fear – homelessness – is suddenly a reality, and her child’s life becomes a terrifying nightmare.
Homelessness strikes old and young – men, women and children alike. During these difficult economic times, many people are just one step away from homelessness, and the most vulnerable of these are mothers with children. Poverty has many faces, but there is none more heart wrenching than a homeless mother and her child. We are reminded of a time, centuries ago, when Mary was in desperate need of shelter. Her only concern was for the coming child and His safety. Joseph was there, providing a helping hand, and with God’s help, Mary’s prayer was answered. Safe shelter was found.
Through God’s grace and the efforts of our Vincentian Family, homeless mothers and children today have a safe refuge. How can you help?
There are 52 weeks in each year, but only one is referred to as Holy Week. The interval between Palm Sunday and Easter is the holiest of times, and although it marks the end of the Lenten season, it doesn’t have to be the end of our focus on Christ’s message and sacrifice. His challenge to us is to make every week holy.
As a Vincentian Family, we see each day as another opportunity to bring the Gospel to life through service to others. Jesus commands us to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters and makes it clear that when we show kindness and compassion, we are extending a helping hand directly to Him. One of His greatest gifts to us is the knowledge that He is present still, and centuries later, He walks among us, often in the disguise of the poor and suffering. As we strive to follow in His footsteps, our focus should be, not on ourselves, but on others, especially those who have no family or friends to turn to, people for whom every day has become a struggle just to survive.
Christ’s ministry is alive and well! In reaching for someone’s hand, you are touching God’s heart. We pray that Christ’s example will inspire you to make every week holy.