Matthew 8:20 reveals Christ telling us this: And Jesus saith to him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests: but the son of man hath not where to lay his head. DR
Most people I have spoken with about this passage do not understand the meaning of it. Most people think that Christ chose to live outside, sleep outside, eat outside, and gather His disciples to Him outside. He chose this way, in one sense, but not in another. Most Christians honestly today do not understand that Christ was truly homeless and without shelter.
God the Father willed this for His Son for at least two reasons, and for other subsequent reasons. He willed it to show the sins of mankind and to show that Christ allowed Himself to suffer because of those sins. Christ chose to follow God the Father’s Will.
Christ had to wander about for two reasons and the first is that no one offered the Son of Man places to stay on His journeys. The Holy Land is a very small country, even in Christ’s time. Like Malta, where I was for a bit, most people would have been related or would have known people in other towns. The Holy Land would fit into the State of Vermont and, even at the time of Christ, had a denser population. Yet, no one offered the Son of God a place to sleep or eat overnight or for a length of time when He was in a town or village except for very few, and not everywhere. Think on this. There were a few women we learn in the Gospels who ministered to Him, and we know that Lazarus, Mary, and Martha welcomed Him when He was in Bethany.
Except for very few, and intermittently, Christ was not welcomed among His Own people, the people who had been chosen by God the Father, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and which refused to accept the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
To think that Jesus enjoyed sleeping rough for the sake of sleeping rough is a preposterous romanticism of the Gospel. That is why Christ mentions this to His Own and to us. He makes a point of telling us of His homelessness. He was not complaining, as this homelessness was God’s Will, but He was telling the facts of His adult three years. He tells us this for several reasons.
The first reason is to understand His great poverty. He could not afford nights at the inns–there were no vouchers for the poor or credit cards; second, to identify with the itinerant and homeless, giving them dignity; third, to lead all Christians to respond to real needs of real people.
The second reason is that His life included the typical itinerant lifestyle of a prophet. Christ is the Messiah, the Last Revelation of God on this earth. There is no more new revelation after the last word in the Book of Revelation.
Christ did not have the Internet or phones or even a postal system obviously. He carried the Good News by word of mouth, by the fact that He IS the Word of God made flesh, as St. John tells us. The Word had to travel to spread the Good News, just as missionaries do today. Feet on the ground is the best physical way to spread the news of salvation, the truths of the Catholic Church. Personal contact is the way of the missionary. Personal relationships are the way to spread the Gospel.
Some Americans who are paying attention have noticed that homeless people are disappearing in the United States. The common attribute of the homeless is that they have no families to care for them or who want to care for them, or they fall outside the government requirements for government housing for some reason, not necessarily because of their own fault.
So, where are these homeless going? Some people think they are in FEMA camps… imprisonment against the will of the homeless.
There are less and less homeless shelters, not more. Most shelters make the homeless leave during the day and sit outside, even in sub-zero temperatures. That there is one homeless person in America would be a sign of a lack of true Christian love. That there are 3.5 million people in a given year in the States who experience homelessness, on the street or in emergency shelters, is a shocking statistic.
On top of this, another statistic reveals that there are five times the number of empty houses in the United States as there are homeless people. Why?
In homeless, emergency shelters in New York City alone, there were 60,000 homeless people in January 2015. Los Angeles in September, 2015 had 25,000 homeless people.
Two weeks ago, a lady who works with poor, old people, told me that the greatest housing shortage in America is for aging Baby Boomers who are poor. There is little or no lost cost housing in many areas of the United States. The housing just does not exist.
In areas where the homeless are disappearing, and where homelessness is being made a crime, (poverty was a crime in early 19th Century England-remember the work houses, and debtors’ prisons), the homeless just are not being accounted for by the locals. Some churches have made statements about the need to follow up on the disappearance of the homeless, but the will of the American people is lacking.
In years past, families took in old people. And, one of the largest groups of the homeless are single people.
31 cities have made it a crime to feed the homeless. A total of another 40 cities, mostly in Florida, have tried to make feeding the homeless a crime. Why? Think about this. In 2014, a 90 year old man was arrested for feeding the homeless. After his charge and fine, he said he would go out and feed the homeless until he died.
Amazing inversion of justice….Atlanta, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, and many other places have been labeled “mean cities”. In Las Vegas, a person can be arrested for being homeless while staying in a shelter. This has actually happened to a Vietnam war vet who had slept one night outside before he got his shelter place and was therefore under a warrant for his arrest. The man was wounded in the spine in the war in Vietnam and needs a wheelchair. When I speak of such things to people, they tell me he must have done something wrong. No, he is just very poor.
In Phoenix, a church was stopped from giving out breakfast to the homeless. And, again, in Florida, in Gainesville, no one can feed the homeless over a certain number of people per day-130.
So, if you are in line and are 131, you do not get a sandwich.
The money is there to help, but the money is being stopped by city, state or federal governmental laws. One may ask why? There is less money going for low cost housing than in the past in America.
The two main reasons for homelessness in America may surprise some people who are reading this. The first reason for homelessness and the rise of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing.
The second reason is the growth of poverty owing to low-paid jobs and temporary only or part-time employment.
These are the same two reasons for the number of Millennials who have had to go back home after college and live with parents, young people either working beneath their abilities, at low paying jobs, or not being able to find work at all.
In 2004, the average wait for Section 8 Housing vouchers was 35 months. It is as long at 8 years now in some cities and towns in America. A social worker told me this in 2013.
If a person has lost a job, lost a house, lost a rental place because the landlord went bankrupt, and if that person has to wait 8 years for housing in some areas, he or she will become homeless unless helped by individual or families.
A man in Malta told me there were no homeless people in that country. He was telling me that his group of business men help find them personally, and get them housing, as well as furniture and food. He told me that this was the duty of those who were better off. That is the Catholic way of thinking. I, in any place I have been in Malta for my allotted months, never met a Maltese homeless person on the street.
The immigrants are also well-taken care of there.
I believe the difference is that the long heritage of the Knights Hospitallers lives in the blood of the sons of Malta. I hope this continues.
To be homeless is to become a non-person in America. Few want to see that person or acknowledge his or her dignity are a human being. This is the result of the Calvinist roots of America. Even Catholics have been infected with Calvinism.
“Well, I have made it good from nothing, so if that person on the street is suffering, it must be his fault.”
I have heard this said.
Christ was homeless. We need to stop pretending that His life was one of a romantic hero in a novel or a movie. He was hungry and cold, too wet and too dry, hot and thirsty.
In some minds today, Christ the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity would have been blamed for His Own state.
St. Francis is considered by some in the Catholic Church to be the saint most like Christ in that man’s choice of lifestyle. Today, there are few Franciscans who live like St. Francis did. But, if they did, they would most likely be arrested, or just disappear in some mysterious way.
(All these statistics are readily available on wifi, government sites and from the long bibliography at wiki on homelessness in America. Just google if you want more info either homelessness in America, or the criminalization of poverty and homelessness.)