Caring for the poor and homeless requires that we first acknowledge that the poor and homeless exist and need assistance from you and me. Leaving the task to someone else means that we lack compassion and have only pity.
Watch this very interesting, short video, from the New York City Rescue Mission. It has received over 5 million views. I hope it has the same affect on you that it had on me: to raise your self-awareness of the plight of the poor and homeless.
What impact did this video have on you?
Did it help to make the poor and homeless more visible to you?
Did it help you to see that you must first acknowledge their existence before you can express sincere compassion; before you can truly enter into the suffering with them, without forming judgment?
If the answer is yes, then consider these practical suggestions for practicing compassion in caring for the poor and homeless:
- Acknowledge the existence of the poor and homeless – Become more aware of those less fortunate than yourself and acknowledge that you are no better than them. The only difference is that you have been graced with the nicer things of life. Don’t look away. Look into their eyes. Engage in conversation. Learn about their suffering and pain. Listen to their story.
- Donate clothes, toiletries and bedding supplies to homeless shelters – Definitely give from your excess, but also consider giving from your own need. In that way, you will truly share in the suffering and pain of the poor and homeless. This is the time of year when we take the time to clean out our closets and pantries to make room for all of the new things we receive at Christmas. We make donations for tax deduction reasons. This year, I ask you to please give from your heart.
- Volunteer your time and talent to care for, train and educate the poor and homeless – Cook and serve meals, make beds, teach basic skills, but most importantly, engage with the poor and homeless to find ways to alleviate their suffering.
As we finish our discussion on the virtue of Compassion, we move next to the virtue of Joy. As we approach Christmas, while in this third week of the Advent season, Joy is a fitting virtue to discuss in our next reflection. Don’t miss it!