Total Pageviews

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock

Merry Christmas! The Savior has arrived, but tucked away in all the sweet hymns and swaddling clothes in a peaceful manger setting is a noisy knock. The Savior on this great day appears on the scene of human history announcing to everyone – to you and me: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Rv. 3:20

Let us make no mistake; this is One baby who both then and now plans to turn human history upside down. He is full of seeming contradictions and unexpected surprises. Soon, everyone shall see that down is up and up is down. He is rich, but he is born into poverty. He is the Galaxy Builder of the universe, but lives a poor and homeless life.

Tranquility in Bethlehem is further shattered when Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Mt. 10:34 To the poor, the abandoned, the forsaken and persecuted he plans to have mercy. In their lowliness and their humility they are now defined as rich. To the rich, the proud and the conceited He exposes the lifestyle for what it really is, true poverty.

At Christmastime, in the Silent Night He speaks loudly. He is at the door of hearts, brilliantly knocking and he says …

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,

“I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
Rv. 3:15-20

Merry Christmas!

Homeless In America returns after Christmas week, Wednesday, January 2, 2008. In the meantime, please visit HIA daily and peruse more than 100 blogs, articles, reflections and rants with triumphal insights in to all types of personal and social poverty. Please scroll down to vote in the polls and Subscribe! in the top, right column. Invite your friends and family to visit HIA and to Subscribe!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hark, Hear the Glad Song!

Hark, hear the glad song! the Savior comes,
The Savior who was promised long ago;
Prepare in your heart a throne,
Join in their angelic hymns of praise.
He comes for the broken hearted,
The bleeding soul to cure;
And with the treasures of grace,
To save the humble poor.

Mary gives voice to the rejoicing of the redeemed of the world: "The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name." Lk. 1:49 Christ was born among the poor and put to death for the salvation of the world. Our Savior comes to raise us up! God bestows on us in Christ all His riches in glory.

Lord, you came to bring life to all the lowly, the afflicted and the poor: Console the homeless, the aging, the hungry and the oppressed.

Friday, December 21, 2007

St. Peter's Los Angeles, Champions of Christ in Christmas

In the true Spirit of Christmas, St. Peter's in downtown Los Angeles (famous for its fishing boat altar, photo above) consistently announces Christ to the poor and homeless throughout the year. Six days a week, volunteers staff a hot meal line cooking up lunches for 150 needy children, women and men each day from the rectory's kitchen.

Yesterday, approximately 25 guests of the food line attended a special Holiday prayer group and Bible study. After singing Christmas Carols the group turned their attention to prayer and reflection on the Nativity Story. What was the message? At His conception, Christ left his throne in glory. He left all of His riches and emptied Himself of all splendor becoming poor and homeless (always homeless because he left His true home in heaven) for our sake. Christ is our model! We too can leave our pride, riches and arrogance behind, become poor with him and unite with Him in His mission to transform the world.

The group concluded with three gifts presented to each person. The first, a bottle of water representing Christ who is the only person who can quench thirst. Second, a bag of fresh-baked cookies representing the gifts of consolation God gives us to make it through our trials in this life. Lastly, gifts of warm socks, gloves and jackets. All representing the gift of God's Son coming into our lives. The best gift of all? Six participant's prayed for forgiveness of their sins and they rededicated their lives to the Lord. There was undoubtedly a lot of rejoicing in heaven!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir Asks, “How Poor is Poor?”

"The question of who is considered poor is a fundamental one in Jewish law, because many commandments of the Torah apply specifically to the poor and needy. For example, a farmer in the Land of Israel is required to leave part of the harvest for the benefit of the poor: 'And when you cut the harvest of your land, don't eliminate the corner of the field in your cutting, and don't gather the stray sheaf; leave it for the poor and the sojourner - I am the Lord your God' (Leviticus 23:22).

"Likewise, we are commanded to give charity to the needy: 'When there will be a needy person from among your brothers in any of your gates in your land which the Lord, your God gave you, don't harden your heart and don't close your hand to your needy brother' (Deuteronomy 15:7).

"Many prominent Jewish law authorities generalized from rulings in the Mishnah and concluded that the most meaningful measure of poverty is that someone does not have the basic wherewithal to earn a living. The main principle is that poverty is mostly a function of insufficient income rather than insufficient wealth.

"The Mishnah states that in order to be eligible for the weekly distribution of 'emergency rations' a person has to lack even a week's worth of food; likewise, individuals or the community may want to set up an emergency fund for the most desperately needy. Also, an older person on a fixed income that is insufficient for basic needs is certainly eligible for charity assistance."

Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir is one of the Jewish world's best-known lecturers and educators in the area of business ethics. Rabbi Dr Meir’s extensive background includes being educated at Harvard, and obtaining a Ph.D. in economics from MIT.

More on the Internet:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Lord's Record on the Poor

The Lord has His own personal record on serving the poor. In these passages (below) of the Bible, God speaks of His commitment to those living in various states of poverty. If you feel "poor" in any way, God has a big heart for you ... so take heart when you reflect on these verses ...

Deut. 26:5-9. The Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us. Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders; and He has brought us to... this land flowing with milk and honey.

Luke 4:16-21. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read... "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He appointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD... Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Ps. 140:12. I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.

Is. 25:4. For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress.

Ps. 10:14. The unfortunate commits himself to You; You have been the helper of the orphan... O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed.

Is 41:17. The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them.

Luke 6:20-21. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

James 2:5. Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

Please scroll down to vote in the polls & Subscribe! top, right column.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cafeteria Christians?

Sometimes referred to as, “Cafeteria Christians,” some churchgoers pick and choose what they would like to believe and follow from God’s Word or from the Church and her directives. Possibly when it comes to things like deciding whether to eat pork or eat meat sacrificed to idols or ladies choosing to wear a head covering in church - cafeteria-style selectiveness like this can work on various levels for a lot of good reasons.

Being picky and choosy is not a good idea in matters of Faith, Doctrine and justice for the poor. Here, we are tampering with the very heart and soul of the Ruler of the Universe Himself. The Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God's deep concern for both. If we take our Faith, Church and God seriously, we will want to take these passages seriously.

As you read the many Bible passages in HIA articles and posts, you may very well feel a good deal of resistance (possibly at first manifesting itself as indifference). Many American churches have departed strongly from Biblical values in these areas, and even created a rationalization-- "prosperity theology"-- for rejecting them. It takes time, the Holy Spirit and reflection to get past this misteaching. But do try to get past the resistance. Spiritual growth doesn't come from what goes down easily, or what we like to hear and read. It comes from what's different, and even difficult.

With more than 107 articles, many containing Scriptural references, Homeless In America is a good place to launch a home-based or church Bible study on the topic of the poor. After reading a Scripture passage about the poor, the homeless or migrant ask the following questions: "Why does Jesus or the Bible say this?" or "What did I learn from these verses?" and also ask, “In what ways are the poor reflective of the 'poverty' in my own life?”

Monday, December 17, 2007

But, "We Seek a Home that is Yet to Come" ...

Some live in spectacular country homes, like this one (photo above) with a lot of history, charm and warmth - the place to be on cold winter nights.

Some live in simple nylon elegance enjoying generous amounts of original art lavished on walls everywhere.

Yet others live in a beautiful, almost new home, like this one (photo above) at a spectacular country club with an 18-hole golf course!

Some live in homes that offer the benefit of minimal maintenance upkeep as well as none of the cost of expensive utilities, like this late-model Winnebago on Skid Row.

Some live in a way that reminds us that we are all sojourners, pilgrims and nomads wandering about with ridiculous compulsive obsessions for jobs, careers, collectibles, drugs and alcohol - that is until we find our true home in the Lord.

"Here we do not have a lasting city; we seek a home that is yet to come." Hebrews 13:14

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"We See You Saturday"

One morning in November, the realization hit that reaching out to the homeless is about seeing the unseen (see, ... "We See You Saturday" Monday, November 12, 2007). The thought occurred that taking time to deliver St. Paul the Apostle's “Sandwich Builders” supplies to the forgotten homeless is about “seeing” people - in much the same way that Jesus takes the time to see the short guy Zacchaeus up in the tree (see Sunday, November 4, 2007) and blesses him. We do the same when we take time to encounter and “see” the normally unseen. Yesterday, we saw Tara, now alone on the streets after her companion mysteriously died just hours after we spoke with him about Christ at our previous visit. He was left under a bridge abandoned and forgotten until he was found hours after his death. We also saw Kitty, who in November was revived under a bridge after suffering a heart attack. Her mother and father recently died months apart from different causes. Like Tara and Kitty, we see them and we pray for the many more who are normally unseen ...

Please scroll down to vote in the polls & Subscribe! top, right column.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

... "Better than Elves" Photos, Part Two

Please scroll down to vote in the polls & Subscribe! top, right column.

Thankful for Volunteers, St. Paul's Parishioners are Better than Elves

Last night, it only took 1 hour for more than 200 St. Paul's Parishioners to make nearly 600 sack lunches and more than 1,000 sandwiches. If there really was a North Pole with a Santa's workshop, this is what it would look like. The children created handmade Christmas cards while others made sandwiches and stuffed 1 gallon ziplock bags with snacks, fruit, candies and water. One crew delivered boxes of the lunches street side to a waiting truck and neatly packed it from floor to ceiling. Thankful for the volunteers, a new team, "Catholics-Under-the-Bridges" will make a delivery this morning to homeless living under bridges and remote alleys who are unable to get to traditional Skid Row services. The team will also handout warm jackets, socks, t-shirts, hygiene kits, prayer cards and rosaries. Because of hundreds of volunteers there will be hundreds of smiles on many poor faces. As a community, we are thankful for the thousands of volunteers nationwide who today will touch the nation's needy with their time, talents and treasures. May they inspire thousands more volunteers by being role models of compassion.

Please scroll down to vote in the polls & Subscribe! top, right column.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Checking into the Bethlehem Hilton

With Christmas less than two weeks away, we continuously absorb from American life various and intense takes on the Christmas story. Somewhere between the crowded stores, the noisy streets, overspent credit cards and sometimes annoying visitors that are difficult to love, we long to experience the true Christmas story. Deep down inside, if we are honest, we all know that Christmas is not about Santa Claus, ‘Jingle Bells,’ fruit cake and eggnog.

The true Christmas story is about God’s love for the poor as well as for those who identify with the needy as poor sinners themselves desperately wanting a Savior. On the day of His birth, Jesus avoids the possibility of checking into the Bethlehem Hilton (photo, luxury hotel overlooking the "Old Wall" in Jerusalem) and just in the nick of time makes his bed in the hay of a cold barn. From the very outset the Savior wanted to give a very clear picture about who He is and what He has come to do. In Luke chapter 4 it is said by Jesus …“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

In His manger's poverty, Jesus' birth continues to grow His mission for the poor when he becomes officially homeless himself. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus became a true homeless family when Herod, a government official, became a threat to them (Matt. 2:13–15). Let us keep in mind that this image captures the essence of a Christmas story because you cannot get any poorer than that.

Where will we find Jesus - the Christ we so want to know? Will we find Him in the shopping mall - or might he unexpectedly appear in alley somewhere lying with the homeless? How joyful would it be to go see Him and greet Him there?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

“Let the Children Alone”

Homelessness and poverty affects all ages, but an astonishing 48% percent of its victims are children …

About 15 million children -- one out of every four -- live below the official poverty line. 22% of Americans under the age of 18 -- and 25% under age 12 -- are hungry or at the risk of being hungry. Everyday 2,660 children are born into poverty; 27 die because of it. Children and families are the fastest growing group in the homeless population, representing 40%.

Being a volunteer at a children’s services agency or at a skid row outreach such as the Union Rescue Mission can make a big difference for a child. Eddie Ryeom, a volunteer with Operation Exodus says: "One of the major benefits of working with children is seeing tangible results, from their smiling faces to increased test scores. However small your contribution, you're helping [your] community deeply in need."

Eddie’s testimonial and millions like it show that even one volunteer -- perhaps you -- can change a child's life now and for the future. With up to 15 million kids in need, every volunteer is an asset in the ongoing war on child poverty. From helping an individual child to addressing the issue nationwide, there are many choices. You can find greater fulfillment for yourself, too!

In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said … “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."


More on the Internet:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More Wasted Food!

In Regards to "Food Waste and Hunger is a Side by Side Problem" (see Friday, December 7, 2007) M.F. writes in and asks ... “What can we do collectively and individually to solve this problem?” Coincidentally, Jonathan Bloom, the publisher and editor of visited HIA and said … “You're doing admirable work here. If you'd like to read more about the tragedy of American food waste, I'm blogging about it at” Jonathan is a talented young writer with a zeal for social justice and has made questions about food waste in America his journalistic passion. He is writing a book about wasted food in America. even provides home-based tips for consumers to manage personal food pantries in a more efficient and economical manner. What will you do with all the food and money you will be saving by implementing the tips? Make a donation of food or cash to your local food pantry, homeless food line or shelter, of course!

More on the Internet:
Please scroll down and vote in the polls. Your opinion counts!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What If?

Regarding, "Life is a Journey - Avoid McMansions?" (see Tuesday, December 4, 2007 and the original story, "Garden Roots" Wednesday, November 28, 2007) BringtheHope Said ... "Better living through less! A theme which I have started to put into action lately. I hadn't really thought of it as a way toward greater connection with God, but yes I can feel more of a connection through shunning the normal material lifestyle. Thank you for your comment.What of the generally pervasive "I got to have my bling bling and my bigger better everything"? Seeking to satisfy my base instinct of survival which after all what materialism serves.Where does this ultimately go? What really is the purpose for collecting ever more expensive things? Underneath it all is serving our survival instinct. A "want of the flesh" in religious terms. This may offend some but the reality cannot be denied. Perhaps God has moved me toward this and I just didn't give him the credit! You know, I really think God doesn't make it difficult for us to build a relationship with him. Action it seems speaks much louder than words to God and living with less is statement to him without words.

Today's spiritual thought ... WHAT IF? What if everyone in the country this Christmas donated all the money they would ordinarily spend on conventional gifts toward solving the worlds leading most glaring troubles? Feeding the hungry, nursing the sick and the myriad of problems faced by the much less fortunate at home and abroad. How would God like that?! Literally overnight we would move light years closer to a beautiful harmony and peace on earth.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Letter from Jesus

Dear Friends,

As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer. It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration. Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don't know the meaning of the celebration. I remember that last year many had a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something? I wasn't invited. I was the guest of honor and they didn't remember to send me an invitation. The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, they closed the door in my face, homeless .. and I wanted to be with them and share their table. In truth, that didn't surprise me because in the last few years all close their doors to me. Since I wasn't invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner. They were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything. They were having a grand time. To top it all, this large man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling "Ho-Ho-Ho!" He seemed drunk. He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying: "Santa Claus, Santa Claus" as if the party were in his honor! At midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and do you know no-one hugged me. Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me. What would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one? I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left. Every year it gets worse. People only remember the gifts, the parties, to eat and drink, and nobody remembers me. I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into the home of your hearts. I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you. Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart and welcome me in.

Jesus was Born Homeless, Lived Homeless, Died Homeless and Remains Homeless in our Lives Until We Invite Him into Our Hearts, Homes & Celebrations this Christmas

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Lofty He Brings Down

The Word of God
"On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah: 'A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps the faith. A nation firm in purpose you keep in peace; in peace for its trust in you.'

"Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal rock. He humbles those in high places, and the lofty he brings down; He tumbles to the ground, levels it with dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor."

The Meditation
What song will I sing in the coming day of the Lord? There are two songs, O Lord. One is a song of lamentation. In this melody I will have to construct words to express all the times you tried to humble me in all my pride, but I failed to change. It will be my song of eternal failure. A song of Holy longing that will never be filled for an agonizing eternity. I will lament that my will was never broken - that I never yielded to your will. In this song, I have become an eternal prisoner of my own pride. The other song O Lord is a song of joy and triumph. In this song, I will join the poor, who in your justice you pardon in their suffering. I will join with them in exaltation over all those who proudly try to set themselves above you and your law. Lord, grant me the mercy that I may respond to your voice for conversion today. Grant that I may in the day of the Lord sing the latter and not the former. That I may join the poor, the migrant, the landless, the downtrodden and the victim in their song of eternal salvation and celebration.
Please scroll down and vote in the polls. Your opinion counts!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Juan, the Poor Ambassador Chosen to Call Landless & Homeless Peoples Home

December 12th is the day of annual celebration in Mexican culture of the Virgin Maria de Guadalupe. As history retells the story, it all began with a poor Indian farmer by the name of Juan. He was born around 1474 in the village of Cuautitlan. He was a Chichimeca of the Family of Texcoco. His Indian name was Cuauhtlatoatzin that means "He who talks like an eagle". Juan converted to Christianity around 1525 and was baptized, together with his wife, Maria Lucia, by the Franciscan missionary Friar Toribio de Benavente.

Juan Diego lived before and after the Spanish Conquest of 1521. The Conquest was an apocalyptic event for the indigenous peoples. They lost their freedom, their land, their religion, their culture, their society and their great city of Tenochtitlan, present day Mexico City. Juan's life bridged two cultures from the pre-Conquest worship of false gods and the human sacrifices made to appease them to the post-Conquest worship of the one true God and the end of human sacrifice.

The apparitions occurred at Tepeyac, a small hill and a former sanctuary to the Aztec goddess Tonanzin. Mary asked Juan Diego to request that the local bishop build a church on that site. There she could be present with all her love and compassion for “all the inhabitants of this land.” It was here he received from Mary the fresh roses growing in winter and delivered them to the bishop as a sign. A miraculous image of Mary appeared on his tilma upon releasing the roses to the floor of the bishop’s residence.

Juan Diego spent hours in prayer to Jesus and Mary and cared for her Image. He lived a life of poverty, chastity and obedience and was revered by all. He died in 1548 at the age of 74 and was probably buried in his hermitage next to the chapel that he had cared for so well.

In his poverty, Juan Diego was chosen to herald the Son of God to the now landless and homeless indigenous peoples. Our Lady was true to her promise and manifested her Son to the millions of native people who converted to Him. For the next seventeen years Juan lived as a humble hermit in a hermitage at the base of Tepeyac Hill and cared for the nearby church that housed the tilma with Mary’s image emblazoned on it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Food Waste and Hunger is a Side by Side Problem

Americans are tossing out at least $75 billion in food each year, according to an extensive study that follows foods from farms through retailers and into the mouths and waste bins of consumers. The eight-year study revealed that restaurants, convenience stores and most families could help their bottom lines if they just learned to buy, store and use food more wisely

Official surveys indicate that every year more than 350 billion pounds of edible food is available for human consumption in the United States. Of that total, nearly 100 billion pounds -- including fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, and grain products -- are lost to waste by retailers, restaurants, and consumers.

By contrast, the amount of food required to meet the needs of the hungry is only four billion pounds, according to Food Not Bombs, an advocacy group, which estimates that every year more than 30 million people in the United States are going hungry on regular basis.

According to various reports, the U.S. and Western European consumers, who constitute only about 12 percent of the world population, are responsible for about 60 percent of its private consumer goods consumption.

More on the Internet:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

New Middle Eastern Ice Cream Flavor, "Sacrificial Lamb" ?

Ice Cream Helps Keep Homeless Warm (see Saturday, December 1, 2007) chills some to the idea of Ben & Jerry's advertisement logos on the back of warm jackets they have sponsored for the homeless. However, J.F. writes in and says ... "Hmmm, not sure how I feel about this one. On the face of it, it does seem demeaning. It could be said that charity should not come with a price. Companies should give for the sake of giving and treating the homeless like sandwich boards for the sake of profit further strips them of their dignity. On the other hand, why not? Every professional athlete and NASCAR racer is blanketed like an avalanche with sponsor advertisements and logos. And is there a Catholic church in existence without the ultimate advertising logo of the cross and a few dozen assorted Saints? If everyone wins, what’s the harm? Still, it’s hard to imagine Jesus’ well-worn tunic with a Nike swoosh on it. Maybe if there was a new Ben and Jerry’s vanilla flavor: “Heavenly Host”, or a Middle Eastern flavor, Sacrificial Lamb or, best of all, a new chocolate flavor: “Jamaican Jesus?” The possibilities are endless…"

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Newspaper Pillows

Twinkling stars can't keep you warm
when your sleeping in the park till the break of dawn

A newspaper pillow and a plastic tarp
watching for the pigs that come out after dark

Lost your job got jacked and robbed
your landlord said that's not my prob

Doctor bills kill you can't afford the pills
now your shaking heart breaking drink as much as you spill

Waiting on The First to quench your thirst
alleviate the discomfort of an asphalt earth

Trying to find a shelter to get some rest
but nowhere seems safe without a knife proof vest

If you could just get back to square one
start to heal the disease that's got you on the run

Feeling invisible going insane
scowls and nightsticks fall like rain

by James Chionsini

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Life is a Journey - Avoid McMansions?

Regarding Garden Roots (see Wednesday, November 28, 2007) M.D. writes... "You've given an age-old spiritual theme a new twist, connecting it to our political problem of homelessness. Nice! The existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers has noted that the rise of philosophy and the world religions in the 800s B.C. to 300s B.C. (which Jaspers has referred to as the "Axis Age") had as its theme the idea of LIFE AS A JOURNEY. All of the founders of the religions, Zoroaster, the Hebrew Prophets, Buddha, and the founders of philosophical systems, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, etc. saw life as transitory or simply a journey toward enlightenment or HOME. So, your theme is well established."

J.F. writes regarding A Bing Crosby Holiday (see Thursday, November 22, 2007) ... "Beautiful thoughts ... In a way I think you are saying the more we “need” a physical home (McMansions, etc.) the more homeless our souls are. Yesterday, I was watching a show on TV about small spaces where people were fitting what used to constitute an entire house, Living Room, Dining room, Bedroom, Kitchen, Family Room, et. al, into small apartments (under 500 sq. ft) in New York. The most interesting part was that the more they got rid of stuff and reduced their lives to bare necessities in order to fit their space, the happier they seemed to be, regardless of their level of income. So less room for material goods seems to equal more peace and room for God?"

Monday, December 3, 2007

Burning Ignites Response

Last week, the story Malibu Burning (see Monday, November 26, 2007) covered the homeless conditions that unexpectedly and quickly overtook many in a second round of wildfires striking residents of SoCal's paradise seaside village. Certainly, our concern is for all those who are homeless, rich and poor alike. Blessed are those who are merciful to all who are homeless - they shall obtain mercy in their time of need.

In regards to Malibu Burning, Anonymous said ... "I appreciate your compassionate tone of this article. We are all God's children, even the fortunate ones. Sometimes it's easy to be resentful of people who from outward appearance seem to have it all. Human tragedy applies to us all."

Please scroll down and vote in the polls. Your opinion counts!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel is born to thee O Israel

O Lord, hear our Advent song. Give us wisdom to hear and welcome your Word now dawning in our hearts. Grant us the courage to welcome His appearance with acts of justice for the homeless, the poor, the oppressed, the migrant, the forsaken, the outcast, the unforgiven and the addicted.

O come O Wisdom from on high,
Who orders all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
is born to thee O Israel

O Lord, hear our Advent song. Grant that people everywhere, across the face of the earth may receive a vision of your awesome presence. Come in your power and majesty. May the peoples tremble, may they tremble in fear of your almighty power.

O come O come great Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times once gave the Law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
is born to thee O Israel

Rejoice, rejoice O people, your God is coming. He is coming swiftly in your crucifixions. Once your wills are crushed and you RIP, He will role away the stone from your tombs. You will rise triumphant from your coffins. Victory is yours, rest assured!

O come, O Rod of Jesse's stem,
From every foe deliver them
That trust your mighty power to save,
And give them victory o'er the grave.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
is born to thee O Israel

Rejoice, rejoice O people of broken and contrite hearts – you will laugh. Lay down your deserts and He will be your sea. Humbly wear your brokenness and He shall lift you up - higher and higher.

O come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
is born to thee O Israel

O come, O light, creator of the stars of night. Let us see your day breaking bright. Illuminate the darkness of our appetites and senses and dispel the fright of sin.

O Come, O Dayspring from on high
And cheer us by your drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
is born to thee O Israel

O God, may we declare to the peoples everywhere what you have spoken: Peace I leave you, My peace I give you. Let faithful love and truth embrace; let peace and justice come face to face.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of humankind;
O bid our sad divisions cease,
And be for us our king of peace.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
is born to thee O Israel

O Lord, today we say yes to you. Yes, O Lord, in this our Advent song, we lift our souls to you – and we rejoice!

O come, O come Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
is born to thee O Israel

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Ice Cream Helps Keep Homeless Warm

It has been awfully cold and rainy in Los Angeles the past couple of days. It's even colder in other parts of the country. Today, Midwest cities are getting pounded with ice, snow and frigid temperatures. In New York, lows this morning dipped to 25 degrees with snow in the forecast. So, how can we help the homeless to keep warm in winter weather - short of miraculously supplying housing for everyone?

Yesterday, an email arrived on a damp and rainy Friday in Los Angeles. The person asked, “How do the homeless stay warm in times like this?” Well, yesterday’s food line quickly served up gallons of hot coffee, instantly making about 150 people at the very least temporarily warm. But, there is another way that may just offer a more long-lasting solution.

Ewen MacAskill, writer for The Guardian reports that Catholic nuns running a charity in Amsterdam’s city center have made a heartwarming deal with the U.S. Vermont-based ice cream maker, Ben & Jerry's. The homeless people have begun to sport logos on their backs such as Chubby Hubby, Chunky Monkey and Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler. In return for financial help for the center, the nuns have offered to have Ben & Jerry's logos stuck on the backs of new warm jackets for homeless people who volunteer for their innovative fundraiser.

When all is said and done, some feel the program may win points for caring capitalists. Others are concerned that it could be seen as further demeaning an already vulnerable group in society. Erwin van der Laan, a spokesman for the media company behind the project, Bizon Media Group, denied that it was demeaning for the participants to wear the advertisements. He told the Associated Press news agency: "You have to see this as something that they're doing to repay the nuns, something that they're proud of."

Ben & Jerry's was founded in 1978 by childhood friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Its mission statement is "to operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally".

On the plus side, it is admirable that Ben and Jerry’s has taken the risk. It is often very difficult to find companies that are willing to be associated with the homeless. The nuns' provide help for homeless people, alcoholics, drug addicts and prostitutes.


More on the Internet:

Please scroll down and vote in the polls. Your opinion counts!

Friday, November 30, 2007

"If you are Homeless, I am Praying for you"

In regards to A Thanksgiving Table Prayer (see, Wedensday, November 21, 2007) it resonated with some and even passed along and shared with others...

IB said... "What a beautiful prayer! I love the part about being troubled by those who have more instead of those who have less. It quickly puts things in perspective and really resonated with me."

C.B. said... "Thank you for sharing! God bless us all!" Anonymous writes... "Thank you for the beautiful prayer!"

M.P. said... "And to all those [homeless at library computers] reading this: if you are homeless, I am praying for you ..I hope and I pray that you will be blessed today and always...and perhaps we'll meet soon."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

O Come, Emmanuel

Isaiah 57:15
"Thus says He who is high and exalted, living eternally, whose name is the Holy One: On high I dwell, and in holiness, and with the crushed and dejected in spirit, to revive the spirits of the dejected, to revive the hearts of the crushed."

Jesus Christ the Word of God, Emmanuel, "God is with us." He was coming, He is coming, and Maranatha! He will come again. Whenever he comes, He comes to dwell among the poor, the lowly, the broken-hearted, and the crushed in spirit, bringing peace and healing to all the wounded.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Garden Roots

Could it be that the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve being driven from it (because of sin) is actually a parable of everyone’s perpetual homelessness? At one time these two characters in the story had a home. It was a nice home at that. However, being home was less about the beautiful Garden than it was about the sense of fulfillment, being at peace with the "family" they were experiencing as they lived in harmony with God as their Creator. The beautiful surroundings they enjoyed were simply sumptuous exterior signs of a lavish and peaceful interior reality they were experiencing every moment of every day. They were living the magical film about being home, “White Christmas” but actually relishing the real version of being home – not the Hollywood version.

Consider the fact that each of us is at the very least is psychologically “homeless.” Each of us lives with unanswered questions, a restlessness, an unfulfilled longing that translates into insatiable obsessions, compulsions and searches that leave us unfulfilled. Each of us is definitely psychologically homeless (damaged) and many of us are physically homeless too. No matter, all of us are homeless one way or another – all are related – brothers and sisters – hobos together. That is until like Augustine we say, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

Possibly then, this ancient story of being disbarred from Garden paradise is telling us that because of disobedience we have been ousted from our homeland – our heritage, our true roots, our big family and our home. As a result, we will always be pilgrims, always nomads – vagabonds until each makes the journey back to God – back to obedience with His will.

The Garden Eden of account in this disbarring “home-to-homeless” light begins to explain our Holy Longing as Ronald Rolheiser explains it in his book by the same name. In fact, all through history we are aware of people after people, nation after nation repeating this very same story. Once they were no people – then they became a people. Peoples were lost, found and then became sojourners once again – especially when a nation sinned in grave ways. So sin seems to be the deciding factor that helps keep us as individuals and nations on the run. Like in the Garden, it gets us easily kicked out from what we thought was home.

This is the very same story of the Jews in the desert. They lose their home in 70 A.D and never get it back. It is also the story of the Persians, Greeks, the Romans, the American Indian. Will it eventually be the story of America too?

Getting kicked out does not just happen to peoples and nations. It is also the story of every human being. Our story begins with birth in a home. Later, we leave home, go to college, etc. and become homeless. At this point in our your lives we begin to always search for our roots – lonely and restless – even to the point of depression, compulsion, ADD, ADHD, etc.

Homelessness is at the heart of the human condition and it can never be fixed until each turns their heart, their focus and wills back to God. When that is done, each is flooded with feelings of peace, solitude and rest. Then we are inundated with a sense that we belong – we have arrived. Each enters into the communion of the saints – our true family heritage. We begin to live with all those who have gone before us and who ever will – all those who also have turned to God and found home. It is in this light that each finds our family, our roots, our homeland. We find eternal rest.

Scroll down and vote in the polls. Your opinion counts!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"God has Sent us the Spirit of Adoption ... whereas we cry, 'Abba Father'"

Today’s blog comes with news about Elijah and Jen, a missionary couple all the way down south in Antarctica. This past week they obediently answered a call to rescue a family of seven children from the threat of homelessness when their parents were tragically lost in a car accident. They work in Christian ministry near the South Pole Station of McMurdo (photo). Daily, the couple risks their lives while visiting community members in sub zero conditions (50 below +). They bring Christ and pastoral ministry to scientific team members and support staff working in this isolated and desolate part of the world.

The Lord recently brought to Elijah and Jennifer Maxwell an unexpected twist into their lives. Elijah writes, “Many of the supplies here at McMurdo are flown in from Argentina and Jennifer and I have been keeping in contact with a church there in Buenos Aires, the capital city. This past month we received sad news about one of the families in the church. The mother and father were tragically killed in an automobile accident, leaving behind seven children. After much prayer, Jennifer and I felt the Lord wanted us to adopt them and we finally completed all of the paperwork. We are flying out to Buenos Aires this next weekend to bring the kids back to McMurdo.” The new additions to their family are Stephen (13), Matt (12), Jessica (10), Franklin (9), Kitty (7), Ben (5), and Tommy (3).

Thinking about their heroic decision, it is remarkable as to how Elijah and Jennifer are doing the same for Stephen, Matt, Jessica, Franklin, Kitty, Ben, and Tommy as God the Father has done for us. Out of nowhere – when all of us were “homeless” while we were orphans he made us His adopted children through, by and in Christ. They are beautiful models of showing mercy to the children as we have been shown mercy by God the Father. (Romans 8:14-17, Ephesians 1:5-10, Galatians 4:4-7) The real tears in their story are not from recounting the death of the parents (they are in heaven and so we rejoice) but tears of joy that out of nowhere Elijah and Jennifer stepped up to the sacrifice – to the commitment of adopting all seven children. The children are now one family again with roots – a mother, a father and a home. A beautiful model of God’s mercy to all of humankind they have become. Please pray for wisdom and strength as the couple transitions into parenthood. We take this opportunity to celebrate with them all of our adoptions by the Father who has rescued us from eternal homelessness.


More on the Internet


Web Page:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Malibu Burning

Homelessness does not show Favoritism
Losing one's home is an unexpected plight of both the poor and rich alike. Take the picturesque seaside village of Malibu, California, for instance. Although home to the rich and famous, it is receiving yet another round of wildfires, instantly forcing many who normally live in paradise into desolate conditions. It has been a weekend of calamity! Hot, powerful winds fanned blazes across 4,720 acres starting early Saturday morning. Fifty homes and two buildings were destroyed on Saturday. Twenty-seven other homes were damaged and 10,000 to 14,000 people were evacuated. All of this in the wake of last month's 4,565-acre Canyon Fire that destroyed six homes, two businesses and a church, (see More than 500,000 found Homeless or Worse, Tuesday October 23, 2007). Malibu is prone to Santa Ana-driven wildfires. In 1993, a blaze destroyed 388 structures, including 268 homes, and killed three people.

Since homelessness does not show favoritism, shouldn’t our mercy and compassion reach out to all those who are homeless – regardless of their income bracket? The Malibu fires have become a reminder - “blessed are the merciful”, when they need mercy it will be shown to them as well. Possibly those of us who are wealthy can take a moment in times like this to reassess our response to the homeless around us and consider helping them in more aggressive and tangible ways. As discovered in Malibu this past weekend, we never know when we ourselves may be in a position in life to need the mercy of others to work through our own homeless conditions.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Bing Crosby Holiday

Bing Crosby sang hope-filled songs about home and even grew the nostalgia into a hit film, White Christmas. But, anthropologists tell us that home is not only place, but it is also about kinship. It is about having both a place in time as well as enjoying a psychological bonding in familial relationships. Unfortunately, since the 1960s - the dawn of the commercial jet age, Americans have progressively lost a personal sense of their family’s homestead, kinship and homeland. The Boeing 747, then later the computer, Internet and digital ages jettisoned us into a world of transience and future shock. Jobs, careers, people, places, houses, apartments, knowledge and things now move through our lives at an alarming rate. Sinking roots into one place is no accident that many find difficult to achieve.

More and more, Americans are suffering from emotional homelessness and in some cases physical as well. Fr. Rolheiser in his book, Against an Infinite Horizon states, “When we have no place to identify with, no roots to drink from, no tree trunk to give us clear direction, it is no accident that on any given day we can sincerely wonder who we really are, what our values are … and which of our seeming multiple personalities is our true one. From lack of home we suffer schizophrenia, dislocation, and much loneliness, both psychologically and morally. “

In the 21st century, still many long for the fulfillment of Bing Crosby’s song “I’ll be home for Christmas” because it speaks to their roots. The reality is that most will never be mentally home for the Holidays (because of arguments and discord) – and others still will never be really home because of actual physical homelessness. In either case, mental or physical, the end result is the same – loneliness, depression, anxiety and restlessness.

What is the good news in all this? Is there any? Most definitely, yes! It is our very homeless condition that God uses to call us to Himself. Our roots, our homeland and the rest that we seek in our agitated aloneness are ultimately found when in our desolation we are filled by being in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.” Twelve distinct times our Lord Jesus said, "I Am," with reference to Himself. He said, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life, I am the resurrection, Before Abraham I am, I am the bread of life, I am the light, I am from above …” How much more do we need to hear? Jesus is clearly telling each of us, "Come to me" (to no one else and nothing else) because, “I am your home.”

Please scroll down and vote in the polls. Your opinion counts!
HIA is on Holidays and returns to publishing on Monday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Thanksgiving Table Prayer

A Thanksgiving Table Prayer

Let us pray ... O God, Source of all that makes life possible, Giver of all that makes life good: We pray now to give thanks, yet we confess that we have often failed to live our thankfulness. What we have, we take for granted, and we grumble about what we lack. We have squandered your bounty, with little thought for those who will come after us. We are troubled by the few who have more than by the many who have less. Forgive us, O God. In this moment of prayer, accept our thanksgiving; and teach us to make gratitude and sharing our way of life. Amen

In this Season of Thanksgiving, some have asked, "How can I help?"
It is estimated that there are 74,000 homeless children, teens, women and men living on the streets of Los Angeles. You can help provide approximately 5,000 meals a month to our brothers and sisters in need. Your help also supports a special team reaching out to 500 homeless people living under bridges and in alleys - providing food, socks, jackets, blankets, jeans, t-shirts, water, soap, prayer cards and rosaries. Every donation helps - however great or small. Thank you for your compassion.

St. Peter's Church
1039 North Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Attn: Homeless in America - GJG

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Food Pantries Stuggle with Shortages

Associated Press writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati and Doug Whiteman in Columbus, Ohio, reported yesterday that free food banks say they are seeing more working people needing assistance. The increased demand is outstripping supplies and forcing many pantries and food banks to cut portions. "I've been doing this for 20 years, and I can't believe how much worse it gets month after month," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.

People are working full-time, that's not the problem - they just can't afford to live. One customer, Diana Blasingame has lately found herself having to go to a free food pantry once a month to feed herself and her teenage daughter. "I'm pretty good at making things stretch as far as I can, but food is so high now and I have to have gas in my car to do my job," said Blasingame, 46, who earns $9 an hour as a home health aide. "I work full time, but I don't have health insurance and sometimes there just isn't enough to pay bills and buy food."

"We have food banks in virtually every city in the country, and what we are hearing is that they are all facing severe shortages with demand so high," Ross Fraser, a spokesman for America's Second Harvest — The Nation's Food Bank Network, the nation's largest hunger relief group, said Friday. "One of our food banks in Florida said demand is up 35 percent over this time last year."

Please scroll down and vote in the polls. Your opinion counts!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Come, Clothe Yourself with Compassion

"Compassion is something other than pity. Pity suggests distance, even a certain condesendence. [When] I give some money to a beggar on the streets of Toronto or New York City, but I do not look at him in the eyes, sit down with him or talk with him, I am really too busy to really pay attention to the man who reaches out to me. My money replaces my personal attention.

"Compassion means to become close to the one who suffers. But we can come close to another person only when we are willing to become vulnerable ourselves [and to admit to failures, brokenness and shortcomings]. This is perhaps, the main reason that we sometimes find it easier to show pity than compassion. The suffering person calls us to become aware of our own suffering. How can I respond to someone's loneliness unless I am in touch with my own experience of loneliness? How can I be close to handicapped people when I refuse to acknowledge my own handicaps? How can I be with the poor [and homeless] when I am unwilling to confess my own poverty?" by Henri Nouwen

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More than 15 days of Homeless Woes for California – 30 Days of Woes Worldwide

Apocalyptic-style fires, floods and winds have recently left millions of global village citizens homeless. In an eerie wave of natural disasters, homelessness unexpectedly came knocking, striking nearly 3 million people worldwide in the past 30 days. From raging wildfires to churning floods and hurricane force winds - natural phenomena left few options for everyone caught in its path but to pray and to mourn their loss. From the very rich to the very poor, few could escape.

Here is a recap as to how homelessness suddenly overcame so many - so unexpectedly and in a very short amount of time:

On October 20, 2007, more than 15 days of woes were unleashed upon residents of Southern California. Nearly 1 million people experienced homeless conditions when wildfires swept through affluent real estate developments from Malibu to San Diego. The last fire was reportedly contained by November 9, 2007.

On November 2, 2007, similar woes were unleashed upon residents of Southern Mexico; but this time it was not by fire, but by water. Nearly 1 million people are still homeless from the worst floods ever in the state of Tabasco.

On November 17, 2007, Bangladesh experienced its worst cyclone since 1991. Winds, clocked at more than 150 mph shredded millions of tin homes and shacks in to rubble. 1 million are presently left homeless and destitute with no immediate housing solution available. More than three-thousand residents of this already impoverished country are dead.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gay Teens - 42% of Homeless Teenagers

Between 1.3 and 2.8 million runaway and homeless youth live on the streets of America each year. A disturbing fact about this group is that at least 42% of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), a disproportionately high number when one considers that only 3 to 5% of the U.S. population identifies as LGBT. How is that possible? Unfortunately, most of these teens report a higher incident rate of having had experienced child molestation as well as adults and peers around them who have been abusive and unaccepting.

At school, kids with any hint of gay characteristics (straight or gay) get harassed and bullied by their peers, and even by teachers and other staff members. 50% of kids who speak openly with their parents are met with alienation and negative consequences, such as being punished, ignored, mourned, insulted or physically abused. One homeless girl reported being threatened with a gun by her father to change, and another girl was raped by a family "friend" who wanted to "straighten” her out.

But out on the streets, things are not much better. Many kids report that, when bullied by other kids in teen shelters - staff members just looked away. Unfortunately even some faith-based shelters flee from Christ’s message of mercy and compassion by unabashedly not admitting kids that are gay. It is safe to say that these kids are both rejected and despised. Who does that sound like?

As Christians we have a responsibility to caringly protect and support all young people. It is never considered merciful to turn one's head when a child or teenager is being bullied or harassed by peers. It is never compassionate to force a child or teen to leave their school, youth group, church, or especially their own home, because of their sexual orientation. Regardless of how an individual feels about the issue of homosexuality, every kid... and every person, for that matter... should be treated empathetically with Christ’s compassion.


More on the Internet:

Friday, November 16, 2007

Saint Margaret of Scotland - The “Messy Way” to Serve the Poor

Saint Margaret of Scotland was actually born in Hungary. King Malcolm befriended her family in 1070 and was captivated by her beauty. Margaret married the King of Scotland in that same year at a fairytale wedding in the castle of Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland. Margaret’s claim to beauty was not her title as Queen of Scotland or even her personal elegance. Margaret clothed herself with royal compassion for the poor. Her life testified to the fact that personal wealth and power is actually a call to serve.

Although having access to all material goods, Margaret remained detached from the world. Her private life was austere. She had certain times for prayer and reading Scripture. She ate sparingly and slept little in order to have time for devotions. She and Malcolm kept two Lents, one before Easter and one before Christmas. During these times she always rose at midnight for Mass. On the way home she would wash the feet of six poor persons and give them alms. She was always surrounded by beggars in public and never refused them help. It is recorded that she never sat down to eat without first feeding nine orphans and 24 adults in her household.

One blogger said this about Margaret … “There are two ways to be charitable: the ‘clean way’ and the ‘messy way.’ The ‘clean way’ is to give money or clothing to organizations that serve the poor. The ‘messy way’ is dirtying your own hands in personal service to the poor. Margaret's outstanding virtue was her love of the poor. Although very generous with material gifts, Margaret also visited the sick and nursed them with her own hands. She and her husband served orphans and the poor on their knees during Advent and Lent. Like Christ, she was charitable the ‘messy way.’”