It was the hottest day on record in Washington, D.C. Few people ventured out on the blistering sidewalks that sent up a nearly visible steamy mist. Factoring in the humidity, the index reached 111 degrees.
Perhaps the weather heightened the odd appearance of the old man dressed in a winter flight jacket with fleece collar. He carried his belongings on his back and shuffled along the street.
Unfortunately, homeless persons are no oddity on our nation’s streets. Although they have always been with us, we are becoming more keenly aware of their plight. Some two million people are homeless over the course of a year, estimates the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
If anyone understands the woundedness, the perplexity, the terror of the homeless, I suppose Jesus does. He left the splendor of heaven. He experienced the coldness, the hardness of life in a fallen world. He knew what it was to suffer loss, to bear rejection.
And how tenderly Jesus dealt with those who were beaten down by a power-conscious, materialistic society. He had nothing but censure for those who abused the poor, who contributed to the discomfort of others.
Close to the end of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, the disciples witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. In a moment of passion, one of them said,
“Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go” (Matthew 8:19).
But Jesus knew they had not yet understood His mission or given their complete loyalty. They were not fully aware that discipleship must take precedence over material comforts, social duties, even family relationships. He reminded them that He didn’t even have an earthly home: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). He was, essentially, homeless.
Or was He? Is homelessness only a matter of material dislocation or deprivation? “I came from the Father and entered the world” (John 16:28), Jesus declared. He knew exactly who He was and what He was doing. He is the welcoming hearth, the light in the window, the steaming bread prepared to give sustenance and energy to all who come to Him. He is the fixed compass point by which we can steer our lives. As we follow, we are led home to Him.
God is our home. We have only to accept His gracious gift of life, and of home, where we are open to the wind of His eternal Spirit nourishing, sheltering and loving.
Marlene Chase, Pictures from the Word