December 9, 2012
One thing I've learned living in New York: the homeless really seem to appreciate it when you make eye contact. Just yesterday I was thanked for this though I didn't give her any money. (I give myself a weekly budget of dollar coins to give to homeless beggars; I prefer to give most of my charity $$$ to actual organizations I know who will put the money to good use.) When I recognize these people as, you know, <i>people</i> it humanizes both of us in the process. When I look away I deny them the respect and empathy I owe them as a fellow child of God, but also damage myself because I think there can be suffering that I don't even have to see.
I'm not sure I'd go so far to call Mary and Joseph temporarily homeless. There would not have been the shame of it, or the long-term uncertainty. On the other hand, I also wouldn't call <i>any</i>one living in Palestine at the time a citizen of the Roman Empire. They were all despised and in a sense homeless, without the power to govern themselves and see to their own affairs. Nazareth most of all, if you think about what Scripture said about the region. It's a powerful testimony, I think, that not only was Christ born to this point in time, but that he was not alone in this suffering.
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