‘I was in prison and you came to visit me.’‘…..then your healing will quickly appear.’
Jesus was and is homeless. He was born in a borrowed stable: homeless. He fled violence and lived as a refugee: homeless. He had nowhere to lay his head: homeless. He died rejected and betrayed, buried in a borrowed tomb: homeless. He identifies himself with the needs of those on earth today, saying, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40).
The charity Hope into Action, founded by Ed Walker, works with the homeless, and believe that when they do the healing is mutual. We as the church, motivated by compassion and biblical injunction, engage with the homeless and we bring Jesus, who lives in us, into the relationship. But, as Matthew 25 also teaches us, we will meet Christ when we engage with the homeless and the poor and the prisoner. We ourselves will grow.
There are only 3 places where Jesus says he will meet with us: when two or three people gather together; when we receive the bread and wine; and when we visit with the poor, the broken, the sick, the prisoner. Notice that Jesus does not say we meet him when giving to the poor, as worthy as that is – he uses the world visiting, a word that suggests an ongoing and mutual relationship.
Meeting with the poor, with empathy in our hearts, is a religious ritual commanded by Jesus. If we can engage in that ritual as consistently and deliberately as we do gathering and communion, then can you imagine the healing that will break out across our country? Healing both for the homeless and for the churches, as we come together and find Jesus waiting there for us.