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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Though He was Rich He became Poor

Long before Jesus journeyed here to rescue you and me from our human brokenness and poverty he eternally existed in splendor as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Talk about wealth. He had it all! In comparison, he would make the wealth of Bill Gates look like a molecule of sand on Mars. He alone has immortality and he dwells in unapproachable light, so much so that no human being can see his glory. (Timothy 6:11-16) But he gave it all up. Jesus Christ set the example for the rich to serve the poor. But give it all up for poor loser hobos? How unjust is that? Love is unjust! Jesus did not wait for us to become good before loving us in our human suffering. While we were yet bankrupt sinners, he lavished his wealth upon us. Guess what? Now we are to go and do likewise. Though he was rich in every way, he became poor to rescue you and me from our poverty. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Here are a few questions to consider in order to help assess your personal wealth. How are you rich today? Do you have money? Are you smart? Did you go to good schools? Were you blessed with good looks? Do you go to the gym to workout and have good health? Do you have good doctors and healthcare? Do you have a car and a house? Do you have the right color of skin to get a good job? Do you have a clean and coherent American English way of speaking? Do you have friends and connections? If you said yes to one or more of these questions, guess what? You're wealthy. God is now asking each one of us to lay down all of our wealthy assets just as he emptied himself and to enter the world of the homeless, poor and needy around us. Remember, the kingdom of God does not belong to the rich and powerful. The kingdom belongs to another very large family. It has brothers named Charity and sisters named Mercy, and a whole houseful of cousins, such as Kindness, and Favor, and Goodwill, and Pity, Thanksgiving, and Reward.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Proverbs 14:21 Unplugged & Updated

When Jesus developed his preaching of compassion for the poor, there is no doubt he was acutely aware of piercing Old Testament scriptures such as Proverbs 14:21 which says, "Anyone who despises his neighbor commits sin. But blessed is the person who is kind to the poor."

Reflecting on Proverbs 14:21, an updated version would go something like this... Anyone that despises his poor neighbor such as to overlook him, is not friendly to him, ignores him or does not interact with him is adding to his neighbor’s poverty. Essentially we tend to “despise” the poor neighbor in our society because of his poverty, or because of his “pedigree” and lowly education. We despise him for the circumstances he is in; or on account of his weakness. Anyone who passively “despises” is sinning. In the Catholic faith it is called the sin of “omission.” In this case, we do not sin because of something we have done but in what we have failed to do. Sins of omission can be grave. The result of all sin is to become unhappy and miserable. But happy is the person who has mercy on the poor. He will not experience the psychological and eternal penalties of sin. They regard the poor in their low estate by helping them, having conversation with them and blessing them. Happy the one!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Rad Guide to Living out of your Porsche

In most major cities, a full-time worker earning minimum wage can no longer afford even a one-bedroom apartment. As a result, more and more people are choosing to live out of their vehicles. They are known as the "mobile homeless." The problem is more complex when kids are involved. The children must be rehearsed to tell anyone who asks the question, “Where are you living?” to answer with something like, "We’re staying with friends!"

Because mobile homelessness is illegal in most cities and the fines are hefty, it is not always the rent savings one would think. The city of Lynnwood, a suburb of Seattle, passed an ordinance a few years ago imposing penalties of 90 days in jail or fines of up to $1,000 against people caught living in their cars. Peter Van Giesen, a code enforcement officer for the town, said that up to 20 cars a night were found with people parking near a park. "Most of these people were trying to find work," Mr. Van Giesen said. (see

Radified is a "mobile homeless" blogger living in Laguna Beach. He refers to his group as “mobile hobos.” He is known for his street-smart wisdom in the book, Rad Guide to Living out of your Porsche. (see He prepares the working poor to live out of their cars in Southern California’s unaffordable housing market. Essential to the lifestyle is living out of an old VW Van, preferably from the 60's but you receive bonus points for living out of a Porsche. A cell phone and wireless laptop is a must. Extras include having a list of all coffee shops with free wireless access and carrying a Bible. He encourages "mobile hobos" to take comfort in knowing that Jesus was a homeless guy. "And Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has no where to lay his head.'” (Matthew 8:20)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Do We have Amnesia in this Country?

Provoking some strong comments was yesterday's, I Worked Hard when I came to this Country! What's your Problem? (see Wednesday, September 26, 2007) Cecil B. writes, "I am so with you on this, I hear people get upset with homeless just by thinking them not trying hard for themselves but it's not that simple."

One blogger is disheartened by "good charitable" people who have surprisingly out-of-character reactions to to the homeless. L.S. said, "Thanks for bringing up a topic that I have found to be occurring more frequently. I have been disheartened of late by comments made by a few friends and relatives concerning homelessness and illegal immigration. Their comments range from 'they need to get a job' through blaming the immigrants for their kids not getting jobs. And these are really decent people who normally are the most charitable people... I just don't understand."

The post poignant is this comment regarding the homeless immigrant by R.S. "Where were these complainers when there were people who were willing and still are willing to work for less than minimum wage? Do we have amnesia in this country? Now we want to throw people away. By the way, have you checked the IRS website, etc.--undocumented immigrants make up about $60 billion (not million) of tax revenue. How about that, people who don't have to pay taxes since they are undocumented but, do?"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Worked Hard when I came to this Country! What's your Problem?

We spend a lot of time and energy in our days judging and second guessing others, their actions and motives. Barely an hour goes by without observing something someone has done and all of sudden we have an opinion of it. Recently, a parishioner walked up and confronted a man standing with other homeless men and said, “So when are you going to go get a job? I worked hard when I came to this country! What’s your problem?” The man humbly thanked him for the comments and did not reply. The man receiving the admonishment was actually a homeless volunteer and had a very good day job.

When talking about homelessness and poverty with many Americans, the topic evokes in them a response that they’ve got it all figured out. For many, they have judged that the problem is quite easily fixed when all the lazy people get jobs and all the drug users stop using. But this feeling that we have to sort people and situations out in our minds and make judgments about them is in reality quite oppressive. Henri Nouwen once said, “Once we can let go of our need to judge others, we will experience an immense inner freedom. Once we are free from judging, we will be also free for mercy.” Jesus once said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rabbi - "Poverty Rips at the Spirit of Men, Women and Children"

In reference to the ancient prophets and rabbis, Rabbi Sim Glasser (left) states, "The ancients taught that there is nothing in the world more grievous than poverty. That it is the most terrible of sufferings – because not only is it physically intolerable, sadly unjust, but also because it rips at the spirit of men women and children created in the divine image." By today’s standards, the words of the ancient prophet Amos (8:4-7)would almost sound like a modern-day blog rant when he says. “Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?’ You skimp the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat. The Lord has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: ‘I will never forget a thing they have done!’”

HIA ponders how Amos spoke out thousands of years ago to Israel and offers to us today a long history of humankind’s inclination toward abuse of the poor. He cast a strong indictment against the wealthy business owners and the powerful leaders who oppress the poor. Similar to our own Hanukkah and Christmas holidays, many business owners can hardly wait for their sacred days to be over so that they can get back to cut throat business dealing. Amos’ indictment is against deceptive business practices (nowadays, check out a new Verizon two-year contract that states, “text and pics access, $0.00.” Nowhere to be found is the charge of .25 cents per message, but the “access” is free!). Also they had they had a disdain for religious obligations (most of us December holiday revelers exchange gifts – yet only a small percent actually go to worship services throughout the year). In Amos’ time, making the ephah small meant that merchants cheated on the amount of goods they gave the customer - (this is not a total comparison, but unexpectedly stop in a Ralphs or Albertsons when you normally shop at Vons and you will not receive 2-for-1 and other store discounts. As a drop-in shopper, a $50 grocery bill can easily overcharge the casual consumer by $10 or more.) To get rich faster at the expense of the poor they even rigged the scales, sold the poor off as slaves for a pittance (sounds like our current third-world textile labor force working for “pennies” a day) and even bragged how the hungry poor buy the useless chaff of the wheat (seems like there is a comparison here, but can’t think of one at the moment).

Ultimately in this story of ancient irony, how about comparing the 350 or so billion we spend on American Defense to the piddling amounts we dole out via welfare? or to our educational systems? Is this not the rich cheating the poor as well? God promises never to forget any of their actions. In the gospel of Luke 16:1-13 we recall Jesus’ story of the crooked bookkeeper, who cancelled his master's debts in order to feather his own nest. “The children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light." You cannot serve both God and wealth!”

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thankful for Volunteers

Volunteers selflessly place the poor and needy first. They are a strong sign of God’s Kingdom here on earth. Their lavish self-donation and generosity is a witness to the fact that Christ is still at work among us.

Today, Marco writes about meeting a young man we nicknamed "Marvelous Marvin" just a few weeks ago. You'll see why in just a moment. Marco also talks about his recent volunteerism ... “What filled my heart with joy the most was sharing little moments with these needy people. Personally, I haven't done anything that I deserve to be thanked. I did not give from my own. I just gave what [food] was there. I need to thank all of you for giving me the opportunity to understand many things. In two hours working with the homeless I saw things that before I only read about in the Bible. The people really touched my heart. There was a young homeless man, I do not recall his name, but I think it is Marvin. He did something that makes me still feel very touched. Marvin saw a poor old guy that was feeling cold and was asking for a sweater as he did not own anything to cover himself. A worker told him that clothing was distributed on Tuesday. The old man said he was cold now and he had to spend the night outside. Marvin, out of his own poverty stepped up to him and gave him the jacket off his back. It was a great lesson and reminded me of the poor widow in one of Jesus episodes in the New Testament, the one that gave to the Temple her last coin, all she had. I just thought to let all of you know about this story."

Volunteers just like Marco daily support many outreaches serving the poor all across America. In the trenches, they put compassion into action. For each of them, we are thankful. In the words of Christ, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Please Vote in the HIA Polls A Few Scrolls Down

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Angel Street Stories

Just the other day, “Dary” and “Rubi,” sat on the cold damp cement with their backs pressed against the church wall eating a modest meal of bread, rice and beans. Thirty-something, they had met on the streets a few years ago. At the time, Rubi was a prostitute and Dary was a drug dealer. On this day, the couple looked worn and tired. While extending an invitation to attend our homeless bible study group, it was apparent Dary could teach it. He confessed he had learned the Bible by repeatedly consuming it cover-to-cover for two years straight while in solitary confinement. It was the only personal item permitted in the stark empty cell.

Rubi hung on Dary’s every word. Rejected by a wealthy father, her real hero is this man who survived prison. She has become a believer through his testimony. She intently listens as he shares his story of an apparent encounter with an angel of the Lord. On one occasion while in solitary confinement, he was let out for a brief social hour. Immediately, a man walked up to Dary, one he had never seen before and pointed his finger boldly proclaiming, “God wants you.” He continued … “God is working in your life. There is no such thing as time. Time does not exist. God wants you to live in the moment and give your all to Him.” He took him to a corner and opened up the Word of God to him. He taught him about why the Christ had to suffer, die and be resurrected and why we unite with him in his suffering and resurrection. Dary never saw the man again.

Today, Dary no longer deals drugs and Rubi is not a prostitute. However, Rubi is HIV positive and also suffers from hepatitis and a bone disease. The doctors say she should be bed ridden. Yet, as a homeless person she continues to walk many miles each day. The good news is that they know who their Lord and Savior is. However, they still have temptations. Rubi says, “It’s not when the drug dealers drop off a $5 or $10 supply that we get tempted. It’s when they drop off $500. A big load is difficult to resist.” When asked to receive an anointing and prayers, they replied, “Please pray for [Rubi's] healing and that we could become clean.” We pray - we remember.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

U.S. Pets Lapping Up Luxury - Homeless in Lap of Poverty

While many of the country's poor sift through dumpsters for food, we sometimes spend money in ways that seem to ignore their needs. In one such instance, many pets for example are being fetched the finer treats of life for a pretty penny. In 2007, pet food sales are expected to reach $16.1 billion. Every dog needs to dine, however the all-natural/custom bakery treats sector is growing 2-3 times faster than regular pet foods. One company catering the trend welcomes pets into bakeries (to sniff birthday cakes & nosh get-well cookies) and creates luxury personalized items for them. It’s a growing trend nationwide of treating pets as family members by spoiling them with luxury treats. One major player's revenue was about $10 million last year. They plan a total of 130 doggie bakeries by 2010.

Friday, September 21, 2007

“Don't help the Homeless!” it’s all about “Getting High”

Regarding, St. Vincent de Paul Unplugged and Updated (see Tuesday, September 18, 2007) Anonymous writes, "Sometimes I am conflicted in my response to the homeless and would like your advice. I am not around the homeless much but when I see them, I do acknowledge them. However, I am not sure what I can do more without creating problems. I have a few friends who are recovered addicts and temporarily lived on the streets and they tell me that it's all about getting high on the streets. They said if I give them clothes or soaps etc. they will sell them or fight over them. They advise me to acknowledge and be friendly but to move on. My experience with homeless is not in downtown or at a soup kitchen. It's isolated homeless at a park or outside a store. And without judging I do think they are probably high. I just feel bad that I can't do anything for them. Can you advise?"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lofty Spending Meets Glass Houses

Baseball may be as American as mom and apple pie, however it became a war of words recently when Barry Bonds said that Marc Ecko, the man who bought his 756th home run ball is an "idiot." Reports say the final selling price was $752,467. Bonds said Ecko could have found a better way to spend three-quarters of a million dollars. Ecko set up a web site to ask America to vote on one of three final resting places for the lofty ball. Among them includes blasting the baseball into space on a rocket ship. "He's stupid. He's an idiot," Bonds said. "He spent $750,000 on the ball and that's what he's doing with it? What he's doing is stupid." HIA suggests that people that live in glass houses should not throw baseballs, or is that stones? In fact, “he who is without sin should cast the first stone.” This type of "stupidity" could cause all of us to stop a moment and take a personal inventory of lofty spending – then retain some of the stash and give it to those who offer support and direct services to the poor in our neighborhoods.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's Up With That?

R.S. asks regarding, "Outgoing with Tall Tales and Loveable Ways" (See Monday, September 17, 2007) - "What's up with that? Mr. Robbin de la Cruz gets his life straight with God and with humankind (pays his debts off, etc.) then dies. It makes me wonder about the saying "the good die young." When I was a kid I kinda didn't want to be too good. I might die young, I kinda thought.So is he better now than here on earth? Was passing on his reward? Just wondering. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Help me understand..."

C.D. recalls an appropriate and common cultural expression regarding Robbin, "I guess everyone deserves a second chance." But think about it, if it is only second chances we humans deserve, most of us are in a lot of trouble. Isn't Jesus' formula of 70 times seven times more realistic to greatly accommodate our constant failures? In other words we patiently and generously give the least, the lost and most challenged around us limitless turnaround time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

St. Vincent de Paul Unplugged and Updated

Even though the poor are often rough around the edges and unrefined, we must not judge them from their external appearances. It is our duty to prefer serving the poor over everything else we do. We must not delay in serving them. When you see one of these beggars, offer service to them as quickly as possible. For instance, if a needy person requires medicine or other help when it is your prayer time or other inconvenient moment, do the right thing and serve the poor person. Offer up serving others as your prayer to God. Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer time to serve the poor. God is not neglected. One of God’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out. So when you leave your prayer time to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rules of the Church that you are required to follow. Moreover, do you realize that all rules must lead to charity? Charity rules! We must do whatever it commands of us. Okay, I hope you are inspired with renewed devotion to serve the poor. We must especially serve the homeless, outcasts and beggars. These types of people have been given to us by God to be our masters and bosses. We are privileged to meet Jesus in them.
(Paris, 1600s)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Outgoing with Tall Tales and Loveable Ways - Robbin de la Cruz +2006

Robbin de la Cruz, a homeless and clean cut young man - thirty-something, was known and loved by many in downtown Los Angeles for his outgoing personality, tall tales and lovable ways. As we got to know Robbin, it was discovered that he had an outstanding dedication to grow and better himself in spite of his crosses and struggles. With a little encouragement, he began to work for some local businesses. He was always on time - if not early to get the job done. Tino, an owner of a men's suit and tuxedo shop commented recently, "No one could do the job of promoting the store and getting local businessmen in to shop like Robbin. He is irreplaceable. We miss him." Robbin's life was cut short one year ago at approximately 6:00am in a hit and run accident. The coroner says he died instantly. He laid in the county's morgue for many weeks until a detective located a long lost brother. About two weeks before his death, Robbin's bills were paid up, he was out of debt and on his feet again. He had a good job too. Now, all that was left was his spirituality. Although when we first met he was an atheist, he went to church twice in the two weeks right before his death. Yesterday's Gospel reading was the story of the Prodigal Son. Robbin de la Cruz immediately came to mind. We pray - we remember.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Abraham Lincoln Friend of the Poor

From the earliest stories when he was a young lawyer, Abraham Lincoln was known to be very kind and accommodating to the poor and was ever ready to place his talents at their disposal. It's no wonder, he knew poverty first-hand while growing up as a boy in a poverty-stricken farming family on the rugged frontier. Lincoln became known as the president who was the friend of the poor. He once said, "God must love the poor. Why else would he have made so many of them?" In his campaign to end slavery, Lincoln was outspoken about giving charity to all Americans. On the occasion of his second inaugural address he said, "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds." Lastly, having had been mentored by a deeply God-fearing mother, he once said, “I regard no man as poor who has a godly mother.”

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Madison Avenue's Marketing Industry has lulled us to Sleep, Dumfounded and Mesmerized Americans into some sort of Poverty-stricken Stupor of Ignorance

HIA speaks mostly of helping the homeless poor, but are they the only people living in poverty? Who are the poor, really? What about the poor in understanding? When Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours” [see Mercy for Some & Woes for Others, Friday, September 14, 2007] he implies that financial poverty does not hinder one’s salvation. True poverty is a poorness of understanding of God’s expectations. Isn’t this the poverty that is harmful to one’s soul? Jesus warns of the grave poverty of wealthy ignorance (being "fat", dumb and happy) when he says, “Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.” So who are the needy? They are easy to find. Look around, they are everywhere. Visit our shopping malls, movie theaters, electronics stores, and anywhere that Madison Avenue's marketing industry has lulled us to sleep, dumbfounded and mesmerized Americans into some sort of poverty-stricken stupor of ignorance. Americans, although they are financially wealthy for the most part; many suffer from the poverty of ignorance, confusion, false assumptions, and lack of awareness. Yes, the financially poor will always be with us, (Mark 14:7) but their time of suffering on earth is very brief, a grain of sand in comparison to the eternal beatific vision of God they will soon share. How can we raise consciousness even among our very "religious" families, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends to empower them to a more gratifying, meaningful and spiritually-connected life filled with Christ's compassion for the lost, forgotten and under served? How can we help to bring each other home? Otherwise, Jesus warns, "Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” (Luke 6:24) How great is the darkness that has overtaken us? Who will shine a light into the darkness?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mercy for Some & Woes for Others

God’s mercy and compassion descends like a dove on victims of war, disasters, hate, poverty and all who suffer injustice. Why, one may ask? God's compassion is rooted and grounded in his greatness. God is immeasurably loving and forgiving to the same great measure that he is awesomely revealed in creation. On a clear night, just look out into the starry sky and you will see how immeasurably great his compassion is toward all victims here on earth. Why? Because in his greatness he is immeasurably responsible for what he has created. He takes responsibility for what he has made by the work of his own hands. In Luke chapter 6, Jesus who is the Compassion of God states, “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.” It almost sounds like an insurance policy into heaven for the poor. But what about the non-victims - the rich, the powerful and the beautifully strong?

Jesus has Woes for those that die not as victims but as unrepentant elite. Those who depart this life arrogant - failing to share their numerous gifts with the poor. They will be shown no mercy. In Luke chapter 6 Jesus warns the rich and powerful with 4 Woes.

  • "Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
  • Woe to you who are filled now, you will be hungry.
  • Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.
  • Woe to you when all speak well of you …"

Welcome to the Kingdom of God!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lamborghini's $1.4 Million Car

Lamborghini has just put a new price tag on exclusivity - 1.4 million dollars. The automaker recently unveiled its new super luxury car named the Reventon at Frankfurt's Fall 2007 Auto Show. Lamborghini promises owners matchless pride with its more than one million dollar price tag, sleek fighter-jet inspired looks and its initial 20 car limited edition. The edition sold out in four days. But who would buy a $1.4 million car while the majority of the world's residents live at or below the poverty line? Chief Executive Stephan Winkelmann told Reuters recently, "Most of the buyers were men from the United States, Lamborghini's biggest market. We have among our customers movie stars, sports stars... the majority of our clients are businessmen. Men. Lovers of luxury goods," said Winkelmann. By comparison, the more socially conscience wealthy have an alternative. They could invest in the coupe version of the Reventon, the LP640 which costs a relatively more modest 219,600 euros or $305,121.00.
Lamborghini plans to make another limited offering of the Reventon. Possibly the stars would consider the more modest alternative, the LP640 and then donate the remaining one million or so in savings to a homeless mission in America. Recommendations are the Union Rescue Mission or Midnight Mission in downtown Los Angeles and the St. Peter’s-Scalibrini Outreach in Chinatown.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mercy, Lord

Yesterday, I was drowning in a sea of my fears and painfully you suffered to raise me. Today, I witnessed one tormented in a valley of tears - but it was painless for me to flee.
Mercy, Lord
For all the times my wealth and possessions clouded my compassion with distraction.
Mercy, Lord
Yesterday, I prayed for my own desires and you speedily heard me. Today, someone requested my help and I slowly walked away - it was just easier to let them be.
Mercy, Lord
For all the times I forget your gifts and live as if you don’t exist.
Mercy, Lord
Yesterday, you sought after me, crucified - you did not think of yourself - you thought of me above all else. Today, I seek power, wealth, status, being right and most of all, being proud above all I think and do.
Mercy, Lord
Free me from my idols so that along the way I can see you - the victim in others' trials.
Give me the eyes to see all the things that are not true - give me a heart of flesh in all I say and do.
Mercy, Lord

Please Vote in the HIA Polls A Few Scrolls Down

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On September 11 They Died Anonymously

Prior to 9/11 many homeless used the World Trade Center as a place to sleep reports New York’s United Homeless Organization. With no apparent family, no one papered the city with missing posters and no one brought in a toothbrush for DNA sampling. More than likely no one even knew they were there except for those who saw them daily in the bustling atmosphere of the concourses. Shopkeepers and other survivors continue to hold them in their memories. They contemplate how their homeless friends died on 9/11, anonymous in much the same way as they lived.

They remember …
  • A lady named Arlene.
  • Maryann.
  • A shoeshine guy, Jack.
  • Keith.
  • An elderly woman Rose who sat by the PATH train bathroom.
  • Marvin, a tall, gray-haired man with a dark complexion, stood every morning by the N train.
  • Carlos, a tall Jamaican some called Ras.
  • An old lady that sat by a bathroom…

The best they can, the United Homeless Organization is keeping a tally of the missing, a list that so far contains more than 50 names and whatever descriptions people could provide. (For more information see

Monday, September 10, 2007

He is Poor Who Having Much, Craves Still More

“The fact that many of us are called poor is not our disgrace, but our glory. As the mind is relaxed by luxury, so also the mind is strengthened by poverty. Yet, who can really be considered poor if he does not crave the possessions of others? As for us, we would rather despise riches than to strive for them. We would rather possess innocence than wealth. We prefer to ask God for patience rather than riches. We would rather be good than extravagant. True poverty is better defined by he who, having much, craves still more!” (From Mark Felix’s Christian apology titled, Octavius written about 150 years after the birth of Christ.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Thankful for Volunteers

Liane writes regarding St. Peter's Rocks (Tuesday, September 6, 2007) and volunteering ... "Really great to start the day with all of you [St. Peter's Homeless Outreach] and doing something positive! See you again soon!" Volunteers just like Liane daily support many outreaches serving the poor all across America. In the trenches, they put compassion into action. For each of them, we are thankful.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sobering Statistics

  • Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.

  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.

  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000.

  • 20% of the population in the developed nations, consume 86% of the world’s goods.

  • A few hundred millionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s poorest 2.5 billion people.

Friday, September 7, 2007

$50 Pizzas and Doggy Bakeries ...

Regarding the 50,900-Square-Foot Home (see Monday, September 3, 2007), Chris S. writes ... “This kind of extravagant collection of material wealth, items for status, i.e. expensive cars, large homes and other comforts that grow ever more decadent (doggy bakeries, $50 pizzas and the list goes on) are symptoms of a sickness which is permeating society…. This sickness is most likely handed down from those in our society which wield corporate power. Through advertising and media … This sickness is handed down by individuals in corporate power much like the heads of a dysfunctional family hand down their dysfunction to offspring... Ultimately the problem stems from a lack of spirituality, relationship with God and higher purpose.”

Thursday, September 6, 2007

St. Peter's Rocks

St. Peter's-Scalabrini Outreach Program is built upon the Rock - the word of the Lord, Matthew 25:35, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a migrant and you welcomed me." St. Peter’s is a Scalabrini mission located in the inner city of Los Angeles fully embracing the vision of the order’s founder, Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini. In the 1860s, Scalabrini took literally Matthew 25:35. He began to work with cholera victims, visited the sick and prisoners, helped the poor and even the bankrupt nobility. Armed with this long tradition, St. Peter's Scalibrini Fathers – Raniero, Giovanni and Adilso now extend the same compassion to the area's migrants and homeless. Each day from 10:00am to 12:00pm the church community provides aid to 100-150 people in need of shelter, food and clothing. The program relies on donations and many volunteers. There is also a support group that delivers food and water to poor living under local bridges. Meeting in the church on Thursdays from 7:30p – 8:30p ia a prayer group serving the spiritual needs of the poor who are guests of the daily food line. They gather to sing songs, hear the Word and to pray. Volunteers are always needed to serve food, clean up, support the prayer group and share their compassion. St. Peter’s rocks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cliff Hanger

One day, Jesus went to Nazareth, (his hometown) and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he read .... “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”, Luke 4/Isaiah 61. Jesus clearly states, "I came for the poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed." By implication, he identifies whom he did not come for (a difficult message). I did not come for the spiritual elite, the self-righteous, religious or the spiritually proud. His mission statement and its implications concerning the "powerfully-proud" infuriated religious people who thought they had God in their corner. Jesus infuriated them to such a degree that even some people in his own hometown before the day was over tried to kill him by throwing him off a cliff.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Theology of Mercy, An Evangelical Nails It

Philip Ryken, Bible teacher and blogger for Reformation 21 Online Magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals gives a theological perspective to God's message of mercy. Although a self-professed mercy cheerleader (not in the trenches) he places God's message of showing mercy to others up there with the great doctrines of the Christian faith. He states, "One of the best ways to test our grasp of God’s mercy is to see how we treat other sinners. How do I respond when I encounter a homeless person, or a transvestite, or a drug addict, or whatever person at work or at home or in the church is the most difficult in my life? Often it is tempting to get angry and to wonder why they can’t get their act together. But that is hardly the response of someone who knows that the bondage of sin can only be broken through the mercy of the cross." Did we for a moment think that God's message of mercy was only meant for Mother Teresa to deliver? Now if we can only move the message a few inches south from the head to the heart - from theology to soul. See A Theology of Mercy Ministry,

Monday, September 3, 2007

New 50,900-Square-Foot Home Is 20 Times Larger Than Average

Dave Collins, Associated Press Writer (AP Photo) reports September 1, 2007. "At nearly 50,900 square feet, the Chase home [Avon Mountain, Connecticut] will be slightly larger than billionaire Bill Gates' home... The average U.S. home measures about 2,500 square feet -- up from 1,995 square feet in 1988 -- according to the National Association of Home Builders. Only 17,000 square feet [of the Chase home] lies in plain view. It's the two-level, 33,500-square-foot basement complex, complete with a 103-seat movie theater, ticket booth, concession stand, game room and music annex." But why? Gopal Ahluwalia, the Home Builders Association's Vice President explains it this way. "It's the same thing as why people buy a $150,000 car when the same function can be performed by a $25,000 car," "I can afford it. I can have it." Susan A. Eisenhandler, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut raises the question as to the morality of it all. She states, "Do you actually need to have that amount of space to live a good life?" "There are homeless people. There are impoverished people." What do you think? Is a $25,000 car performing the same functions more appropriate than a $150,000 luxury car? How important is purchasing designer merchandise to one's quality of life?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Is Compassion Out of Style?

J.F. asks regarding "Soup Kitchen's Aren't My Style." (See Thursday, August 30, 2007) "My question to you [D.T.] is if you really have the interest of the homeless in mind, are you willing to do something positive and constructive about it or just sit behind your computer screen in judgment without all the facts?" [J.F. wraps up his comments with ...] "If you don't like what is written, spend some time downtown, come up with your own solutions and use your God given talent to write something better. True Christianity is about “we” not “me.” " 09.01.07 2:03p

Gufbal1981 responds to the same post ... "No one is telling you to go to a Soup Kitchen. Maybe you would benefit more from going to a place like Covenant House or Good Shepherd and volunteering at one of those places. You can see battered women, young ladies that have no where to go." 09.01.07 10:57p

And lastly, Anonymous asks a profound question regarding a growing concern in the digital age ... "Is compassion out of style? Read the mission statement again. Imagine!" 08.30.07 1:09p What do you think? "Is compassion out of style?" Does the new digital culture of terse text messages - brief cell calls - fired-off emails and IMs add to the problem? Are we too busy to care?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Psalm 41:1-3 A Modern Expanded Translation for the Rest of us “Dummies”

Original: (1) "Blessed is he who considers the poor! The Lord delivers him in the day of trouble; (2) the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; the Lord does not give him up to the will of his enemies. (3) The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness the Lord heals him of all his infirmities."

A Modern Expanded "Translation": (1) Blessed is the one who considers those who don't have enough money to buy the basic needs of life such as food, clothing, and shelter. Blessed are they who physically go out and help these people and do so without judging whether or not they are worthy to receive help. Blessed are they who like Nike “just do it” and don’t ask questions. Blessed are they who help the uneducated poor who are unable to help themselves. Blessed are they who consider those who are afflicted and cannot help themselves because they don’t have the right color of skin, or the correct American mid-west accent, or sex to excel and make decent money in the business world. Blessed are they who help those who are addicted to drugs or to alcohol or some other habits that are often used to self-medicate because a person can’t afford to see a doctor or may not be grounded enough to know they need professional help. Blessed is the one who considers the poor imprisoned and visits them proclaiming liberty and setting them free. Blessed is the one who considers the "wealthy-poor" CEOs and Hollywood actors who have been humbled by ADHD, Bi-polar disorder, depression, the gossip of the media, D.U.I.s, imprisonment and attempted suicide. Blessed are you who consider all the "poor" and do not judge because you certainly are not in any position to do so. You realize that you are only human and a loser* like everyone else on the earth. (2) Because you know your place, you will be blessed by God who sees all the kind things that you do in secret. In your case, the Lord’s mercy will triumph over judgment. The Lord will not judge you. You can count on him to work overtime to deliver you from your enemies. He will rescue you from people that don’t like you and even those that set traps for you. He will do this even while you sleep. You won’t have to do a thing to clear your name. The Lord will do all the work for you! He will move about to and fro and neutralize highly negative co-workers, family and friends and their gossip. He will put a stop to evil plots that are devised against you from those who seek to prove that considering the poor is too “St. Francis” or “Pollyannaish.” (3) No to the contrary - because you consider the poor, when you are in need of mercy, such as lying in bed really sick, he will work overtime to bring about your healing. Blessed are you! Because you have shown mercy, he will be merciful to you just in the nick of time, just when you need it most.

*Loser is an ultra modern translation from the English word, sinner. Sinner comes from the Greek, hamartolos, meaning especially wicked, people stained with vices and crimes, tax collectors and heathens. Loser.