Chaplain’s Corner … Deuteronomy 15:10-11 – “You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'”
We have learned to memorialize extraordinary people and extraordinary events. These dedications usually symbolize some noble deed or outstanding characterization that we want to perpetuate.
December 21st is Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. It doesn’t’ symbolize a noble deed by a homeless person or some heroic act. December 21st is known to be the longest night of the year; a night when cold is held in the night more than any other night and it is this night, more than any other night that claims the lives of people who have no shelter from the cold.
We pass them by under bridges, in the corners of buildings, in the park, and those who are hidden (usually families) in cars and vans. Some of them are men and women who have worn military uniforms. We would only know their background by having a conversation with them but we don’t want to engage them like that. Most avoid looking at them to avoid the request for help or money. Some look at them with disdain. Some even condemn them of laziness and preferring their homeless condition. Of course many are mentally ill. If you think about it, there must be some form of mental illness that plagues someone who is homeless – it is not a normal existence.
The causes are many. Experts say the financial recession and bank – home -mortgage crisis of 2008 contributed to homelessness. Our economy was weakened and people lost their jobs and lost their homes. Major illnesses, not covered by medical insurance; is another cause. Military personnel released from duty return home to a weakened job market, fewer educational benefits than in previous wars; a complicated VA that has an inordinate amount of time to award benefits can account for veteran homelessness. PTSD is another cause and we can enumerate reasons all day. The bottom line is people are hurting, people are struggling, people are homeless.
What should we do? The Scripture says… ‘Your heart shall not be grudging.’ Don’t think of homeless people negatively. Do not judge them. Open your heart and open your hand and God will, in turn, bless you. We are better people when we care for the weakest among us.
Remember December 21st, the longest night of the year and every night that threatens the lives of men women and children living on the streets.
Give your time in volunteer service to help them. Give your money to help them (don’t judge what they may do with it. It is about the act of giving for you.) Give them your eyes – don’t look away. Pray to God for them.
Remember your blessings this Christmas!
Capt. CH (CA) Brenda Threatt