In light of the recent polar vortex, we are called to think about homeless outreach throughout the country. This past week, many homes lost power, forcing people to take shelter in schools, churches or community centers. For one or two nights, a mass amount of people experienced a sliver of what it is like to live in a shelter. Though this is nothing compared to what the chronically homeless face, it is important to realize homelessness happens everywhere and no one is immune. Any person could become homeless at any moment, whether from job loss, natural disaster or economic stress. In recognizing this, we can realize the solidarity that innately exists between people who are homeless and those that are not, we are all one people susceptible to tough times.
For many Jesuit institutions across the country, their relationships with those who are homeless have developed through projects or ministries named after St. Joseph Benedict Labre. Labre, the patron saint of the homeless, provides us a context to see the presence of God in our homeless brothers and sisters. Finding God happens when you look into a person’s eyes, you see their soul, moving you to compassionately love. For Christians, this is the experience of Eucharist.