Shelter the homeless. This can be something of a loaded topic these days, given the worldwide discussion on how to best handle the flow of refugees coming from places like Syria, but it’s part of our Catholic faith that we cannot ignore.
Now, we all can’t be Pope Francis, bringing home a few families from our travels, but there’s plenty we can do and should do about the hardships faced by the homeless. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for ways to live out this corporal work of mercy.
The homeless aren’t far away.
There is most likely plenty of need not far from your front door. Ask at your parish church or diocesan chancery for the names of organizations in your area that are dedicated to helping the homeless. Ask also about groups trying to prevent homelessness according to Christian principles that seek to uplift the dignity of the homeless. If you’re handy with tools (or simply willing to help out those who are) you might look into organizations that build homes for the poor.
The homeless are a diverse group.
Perhaps you have a special affection for military veterans among the homeless; seek out organizations dedicated to giving homeless vets the gratitude and respect they deserve. If you’re particularly concerned about the plight of single mothers and their children, there are organizations dedicated to keeping roofs over their heads, as well. Take a look at the spectrum of people among the homeless and see where your heart is drawn to help.
The homeless everywhere are children of God.
The Church reaches out worldwide in its efforts to help the poor. So if the plight of the refugees you see on the news speaks to your heart, a donation to Catholic Relief Services is an excellent way to touch the lives of the people you’ve watched running from persecution. And remember that the Church is caring for a lot more homeless people worldwide than just the refugees from Syria, so your support of Catholic relief efforts can have far-reaching effects.
Those are just a few things to think about when it comes to living out “shelter the homeless.” There are plenty of other areas related to homelessness that you can explore. You can fight homelessness by supporting literacy—helping people learn to read so they can effectively communicate, find work and participate in the economy. And regarding work, there are groups and programs that help to prevent homelessness by providing job training, high school diplomas and other educational opportunities.
As with so many things, if you take a good look around, you’ll find a way to help if that is where God is calling you.
Let us hear from you.
Have you had a unique experience in reaching out to the homeless? Tell us about it in the com box.