The feeling of dismay returned last week: when reading the Boston Globe, I learned the city of Boston leads the twenty-five largest cities in the United States in the number of homeless persons. How can this be?
Perhaps the answer to the question is there was no room in the inn because there was no room in the innkeeper’s heart. And, there is no room in shelters or permanent housing because there’s not enough room in my heart to work for solutions to homelessness. It is not my intention to demonize the innkeeper or myself or anyone else; but rather, to search for the impediments that keep me and others from seeking and supporting the solutions to enormous problems that afflict our brothers and sisters.
What gets in the way? There are many things that impede us:
- the enormity of the problems
- the staggering number of affected people; mostly unknown to us; they don’t have a face
- the busyness of our lives
- the complexity of issues
- being overwhelmed by the tasks
One of the first things that we need to acknowledge is that we can’t do it all. No one can. But we can do something, and as the mission statement of the Social Justice Ministry states:
As disciples of Christ, we have a responsibility to respect the dignity of all people, to work to secure everyone’s rights and to work for a more just and peaceful society and world. We undertake this mission through prayer, worship, education and action, for love of our neighbor is our love of our Lord.
As in so many things we do, prayer is a critically important dimension to our work of justice. We might find ourselves asking God to expand our hearts to make room for the plight of our brothers and sisters. We may ask God: What would you have me do? We may ask for wisdom and understanding and insight as to how to proceed.
Last month, we heard the Gospel from Matthew 25: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you something to eat…” Jesus replied: “Whenever you did it for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me.” Clearly the Social Justice Ministry’s statement, “love of our neighbor is our love of our Lord,” is rooted in Matthew 25.
Advent is nearly over. And, anticipating the Christmas readings got me thinking about making room in my heart for Christ and for the body of Christ. That body is made up of all sorts of people: rich and poor, educated and illiterate, healthy and feeble, powerful and marginalized. All God’s people are our neighbors and deserve to be treated with respect. Is there room in my heart for them?
Take Your Next Step: In a time of prayerful honesty, ask yourself: Is there anyone or any group of people that I exclude from my heart? Ask God to make room in your heart for them.