This year for the Stations of the Cross I have been asked to do a reflection and prayer at the Third Station. The theme I was given was “The Crime of Homelessness”
Come out Good Friday, March 30th at 10am at the courthouse on Spadina to join Christians from all churches as we walk to remember Christ’s steps to Calvary.
Here is the reflection I wrote:
Station 3: Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us.’ He replied, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ All of them asked, ‘Are you, then, the Son of God?’ He said to them, ‘You say that I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!’ (Luke 22:66-71)
Reflection on the Crime of Homelessness, Chris Randall, Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership
Jesus was judged and condemned by the court. Had he committed a crime? No. Those who experience homelessness in our community are often judged and condemned by society. They are seen as a problem to be “solved.” Individuals and families who struggle with homelessness are often viewed as responsible for creating their own situation. Poverty and homelessness are too often criminalized by our legal system, and condemned by the opinions of passerby’s.
Jesus knew what it was like to be condemned. He knew what it was like to suffer and be an outcast. During his ministry he was at times homeless.
Those who are homeless in our community do not choose to be so. Individuals and families facing homelessness struggle to find shelter and affordable housing. Youth often find themselves in potentially abusive situations due to having no options but couch-surfing. We live in a country with enough wealth for there to be housing for all. The crime of homelessness is that people still find they have nowhere to sleep on a night like tonight. Jesus said that likewise, the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head.
The church needs to welcome those who are homeless into our hearts, our homes and our churches. We need to welcome them as we would welcome Christ. We need to add our voice to make sure there are more than enough resources in our community to house and feed them.
Jesus calls us to see the suffering of the victims of this crime. Homelessness is a crime no one should have to face. At SHIP we use a Housing First model to house and stabilize homeless individuals and families. We work to make sure homelessness is rare, brief and non-reoccurring. We fund case-mangers at shelters and housing programs to house and support the homeless. As they are housed these individuals need support, understanding and care. As a community, the church can offer this support to both individuals and families. They don’t have to continue to experience re-occurring experiences of homelessness.
We pray: Lord help us see those who face homelessness through your eyes. Help us see them with dignity and compassion. Those who are homeless are victims of a crime they did not create. Allow us to love, support and care for them as you would have us do. Open our hearts to provide love and support to individuals and families facing homelessness. Remind us that you were at times homeless during your life on this earth. Let us pray for those who face homelessness even tonight. We pray they would receive shelter and housing as they look for it.
Jesus the Homeless, sculpture in London England.