From Homelessness to Hope & Healing: Witnesses of a Living Christ | April 17, 2021 Essay
In our reflection on the Gospel this week we meet two men who encounter our resurrected Savior on a dusty road. We don’t know much about these men other than Jesus revealed himself to them. Once they realize who Jesus is they immediately head back to Jerusalem to find the eleven apostles to tell them the good news: Jesus is risen.
While they share their account with the apostles, Jesus appears and greets them saying “Peace be with you.” The apostles are startled and scared. Jesus shows them the scars on his hands and feet. Jesus can tell they are not convinced so he asks if they have anything to eat. While they eat, Jesus reminds them of his words, “I told you the Son of God must die for our sins to be forgiven.” Luke’s Gospel proclaims, “He opened their minds to understand the scriptures,” and ends by saying, “you are witnesses of these things.”
Children are the poorest age group in America with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. The lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children without homes or at risk of homelessness. There are more than 4.1 million youth who experience homelessness each year without a parent or supportive adult. No matter what we understand about the definition of poverty we know that it involves children not having enough. Not enough access to healthy food, not enough adequate shelter, not enough access to quality health care, and not enough good education.
We may ask ourselves, where do we see God in this suffering? What is it we need so God can open our hearts and eyes to see the suffering of these children? Luke tells us today that once we have knowledge and understanding we become witnesses and must act. It is important to remember that witnessing is not a passive act.
First, we believe the scripture is telling us we all have a role to play in bringing about the kingdom of God. The risen Christ did not appear just to his closest friends. Before Christ appeared to the disciples, he revealed himself to two seemingly unassuming men traveling on a road. Many of us may never have worked with children or youth before but maybe we should ask ourselves, “What does Christ require of us when it comes to some of the most vulnerable amongst us, children who live in poverty and/or children who are without homes?” Jesus approaches these two men for a reason. Just as Jesus calls each of us for a particular purpose.
We are called to pray and to read scriptures, so we get a better understanding of Christ and what he requires of us as witnesses to his resurrection. We are called to the celebration of the Eucharist where Christ reveals Himself to us. And we are called to serve one another, so as concerned Christians we seek out opportunities to support the most vulnerable among us, children in our community who need loving, caring adults. We arm ourselves with knowledge so we can witness and advocate for the needs of vulnerable children in our community. And we, like Christ, lift up the most marginalized among us, children experiencing homelessness, for all to see so they might have the love, support, and opportunities that all children of God deserve to make our world a better place for all.
– Sr. Nancy Downing, CND, and Prof. Anne Williams-Isom
Please join us Monday, April 19th, for a webinar on “Journeying with Youth: From Homelessness to Hope and Healing.” To register, click here.