A GUIDED PRAYER ON THE ACT OF MERCY "SHELTER THE HOMELESS"
As far as possible I try to pray at my home. I sit down in my favourite room and stop for a while to appreciate the good points about my home. I have worked hard to buy and furnish this house and I have spent a lot of energy turning it into a home. Maybe I have even made my house the centre of my existence, devoting all my means and energy to it.
Whichever way I relate to my house, I recognise that I am one of the lucky ones and that there are many people who do not have anywhere they can call a home.
I become aware of God’s presence, here now, in my home. I thank God for my home, for all the comfort I live in. I pray that I gain a deeper awareness that not everyone is as lucky as I am and that there are homeless people even in our country. I ask God to show me who these people are and what I have done or not done for them and what I can do for them.
i. Jesus was no stranger to homelessness. He was born whilst his parents were travelling, away from home and became a refugee when his family fled to Egypt soon afterwards (Mt 2: 13-18). Later in his life, while on a journey he was approached by someone who said, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head” (Luke 9:57-58), indicating that during his ministry he had no fixed home.
ii. Although we live in an affluent society, there are those amongst us who are homeless, some our countrymen, many more are refugees and asylum seekers from other countries. I pause to think whether I have ever had any contact with them or whether I have ever gone out of my way to meet them, to make them feel welcome, to give them a degree of comfort or to help them in any way.
iii. Many young couples and families are finding themselves in financial difficulties and unable to cope, perhaps because they took out home loans and made other financial commitments that they couldn’t afford. If I know of such a family, have I ever done anything to help them in their plight? Have I ever wondered what the root causes of this problem are? Perhaps in our educational system, in the way we are bringing up our children who end up having unrealistic expectations. Is there anything I can do about all this?
iv. I think of the world around me, a world that is becoming more harsh and unforgiving to the vulnerable. In 2015 an estimated 65.3 million people were forced from their home. Of these 21.3 million persons were refugees, 40.8 million internally displaced and 3.2 million asylum seekers. (http://www.unhcr.org/statistics/unhcrstats/576408cd7/unhcr-global-trends-2015.html). In Syria the situation is catastrophic, and an estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in 2011. The majority are internally displaced or have fled to neighbouring countries. Can I contribute financially or otherwise them?
v. I consider all these situations and others that I have been thinking about. I see what I have done for these people and about these situation, what I have not done and think about what I can do. For all those times I did something for these homeless I thank God. I ask for forgiveness for the times when I did not.
I speak to Jesus directly, as to a friend who is sitting next to me, sharing with Him all that I have thought about and about what I felt as I was reflecting. I pause and listen.
I finish by saying slowly and prayerfully the Our Father.