By Saramarie Wade
This is the first in a two-part series focusing on homelessness.
When thinking about the question, “Who are the Least of These?” I reflect on the struggles of many people without a home, without a safe haven and without a place to call their own. Who in our societyreally are the least of these?
The least of these refers to the vulnerable, the defenseless, the disadvantaged and the marginalized. We say that we are Christians believing in the Gospel. What do we have to say about actively living out the Gospel, not just reading about it?
The least of these are right in front of us, in our communities, as well as near our places of work and school. The least of these are the homeless.
The issue of homelessness, especially in our country continues to be an epidemic, affecting our country’s adults, children and families. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, in New York City more than 63,000 people are homeless and nearly a third of that number consists of homeless children.
Imagine being one of the 15,000 homeless families. Imagine if your child was among the 23,000 homeless children sleeping on the streets and in shelters each night.
If the least of these are right in front of us, how come we, as people, as communities, aren’t quick to heed the call of supporting and assisting them? These statistics are not only shocking, they are disturbing.These statistics are not just numbers, they are people with real feelings, real dreams, aspirations and love in their hearts just like the rest of us.
We get “kindness fatigue” in which we turn off our empathy and our ability to feel for others, which in turn dehumanizes our own brothers and sisters in Christ. For us to get to a point in which we recognize the “least of these,” we first need to recognize our own weaknesses to understand that we are more similar than we are different based on the major fact that, young or old, rich or poor, we are all God’s children.
Jesus Leads The Way
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He not only uses charismatic dialogue, He displays His love through action. This love through action is the greatest representation of God’s love on Earth.
God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to not only save us from our sins but to also show us, His children, a living example of who we should strive to be like each day. Jesus Christ did not heal the sick, revive the dead and restore sight to the blind all because He wanted approval or validation. He performed all of these works to show us love, God’s love in visual action. Jesus Christ performed all these acts of love to show us that compassion does not come with a cost. Compassion is freely given and should be the basis of every action done in life.
In the Gospel of Matthew 25:40, Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Jesus goes so far as saying that the love in action that we put forth or fail to put forth on the “least of these,” we put forth or fail to put forth on Jesus Christ Himself. This is a pure example of how we should strive to be like Jesus Christ. He shows us what bridging the gap of understanding looks like. He teaches us that we are one unit, one body in Christ.
However, we have contradictory thoughts when it comes to the homeless, the incarcerated and the mentally ill. Loving our neighbor as ourselves doesn’t mean loving the people we know. Loving our neighbor as ourselves means loving those who are harder to love, loving those who we normally wouldn’t identify as our so-called neighbors.
When it is difficult to “love our neighbors as ourselves” we need to think about Jesus and how the people with whom He surrounded himself weren’t exactly the type of neighbor that would normally be welcomed in today’s society.
Jesus Christ Himself is ‘out of the norm’ in that He promotes standing out rather than conforming. Jesus looks above status and wealth. Instead, He doesn’t promote religion of right and wrong, He promotes religion of the heart.
When one sees a homeless person, see through the eyes of faith. When one sees a homeless person, see Jesus Christ within the eyes of the needy. When one sees a homeless person, think about the “least of these.”
Let us be examples of stewards of change. Let us be leaders in a world of division. Let us all show our love through action. Together, let us all be united in Christ.
Wade is a senior at The Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica Estates.