Seeing the face of Jesus in
those experiencing homelessness
Seeing the face of Jesus in those experiencing homelessness
Neil Starkie | General Manager, Strategic Partnerships and Growth, St Bart's
The season of Lent invites us to step aside from the busyness of our daily lives and reflect and ponder on Christ’s life, death and resurrection. We think about the way in which Jesus took every opportunity to speak about and identify with homelessness and vulnerable people. As we journey through Lent and reflect on Christ’s life, death and resurrection, how do we see the face of Jesus in all of those in need and, importantly, how do we respond?
During his years growing up in Nazareth, Jesus enjoyed a home to live in. But once baptised by John and embarking on his public ministry, he became a person who experienced homelessness. He had no home he could call his own. He lived a life outside – exposed to the elements, sometimes alone and sometimes sleeping rough. In his own way he lived and died homeless and was the brother and friend of all people experiencing homelessness, refugees and asylum seekers.
On Good Friday, Jesus didn’t die in a hospital or at home supported by the care that we might all hope for. He died a slow, torturous death. He was stripped of his clothes. He had no home and no possessions. He had very few people who would acknowledge him as a friend.
In the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46), he puts before us various types of people: the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick and prisoners. The distress they suffer involves most of them being without a home. Jesus identified himself with those in distress; he is the refugee; he is the street beggar. In these people, we see the face of Jesus.
In this season of Lent, we ask that you think of those at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness and consider:
- Offering a prayer for St Bart’s as an organisation, for our staff and for our residents and service consumers and for all people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.
- If you choose abstinence/fasting during Lent, it is an opportunity to reflect on the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness who often go hungry and have little choice over when and what they may eat. You may wish to donate to St Bart’s in lieu of the food or drink abstained from.
- Think of almsgiving as giving care in a broad sense to others in a charitable way, not just restricted to giving food, money or other material goods. Make a positive commitment in Lent, which could include giving of time through prayer, volunteering with St Bart’s or making a financial donation to assist us in our mission.