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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seeing is Believing

Over the past year, bloggers and visitors to Homeless In America were asked in a poll to disclose how often they may encounter a homeless person. According to their responses, fewer than 50% seldom see or speak to someone who is homeless. Of course, when living in big cities it is practically impossible to miss seeing those who are down and out. But for those living in more rural regions of the country, one may miss the reality of homelessness, nearly 3.5 million lost, broken and lonely souls, many living in Calcutta-like conditions, especially under bridges in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

After polling the question: “How often do you see or speak to a homeless person?” Here is how everyone responded . . .

Daily (16%)
Every few days (16%)
Once or twice a month (22%)
Rarely (44%)

There is a spiritual danger when we do not see the poor, especially when they are obvious as was the case of Lazarus and the rich man, a parable told by Jesus in this regard, (Cf. Luke 16:19-31). At the end of the story, the rich man ends up in the eternal place of torment, not because of sins he committed, but because of what he did not do in his lifetime, namely helping the poor.

Jean Vanier, the founder of l‘Arche communities for the disabled, expands upon the lessons to be learned from “Lazarus and the Rich Man.” While speaking on radio with Lydia Talbot, he once said, “I think there is a whole mystery which we find in Luke. Lazarus was an excluded outcast, a leper, and he is the one that enters into the kingdom. The rich man, who wasn't able to see him, rejected him. He goes into the place of torment. You see, the danger for rich people is that they become frightened and they build up barriers around their hearts, defense mechanisms, because they have to preserve their riches, preserve their image, preserve their power. So they become people of with lots of fear, whereas Lazarus has nothing to defend. He's just himself.”
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