Not Even a Box or Helping Hand for the Homeless?

Article by Correspondent Dallas Darling.

When it was reported that several people passed by a homeless man who had been stabbed and was bleeding to death, some even looking the other way, it reminded me of something that happened many years ago. During an annual state convention of ministers belonging to a mainline denomination, a heated debate occurred over raising the amount of money for moving expenses, specifically boxes, from $400 to $600.

As the argument intensified and became quite lengthy, due to some ministers wanting even a greater increase upwards to $800, a well known urban pastor and social activist stood. He wanted to know how ordained pastors and ministers called by God could argue one hour over boxes, while homeless people outside on the streets were freezing and did not even have a box to sleep in for the night!

Evidently, and as the homeless man lay face down in a pool of blood, video footage showed at least seven people either walking by, staring at, or ignoring the injured man. After lying there for almost one hour, emergency workers finally arrived, but it was too late. The man, who was an immigrant from Guatemala, had been stabbed while trying to prevent a woman from being attacked.

Nearby, and after hearing of the tragedy, Raechelle Groce asked if anybody was human anymore and wondered what was wrong with humanity? She also said that whether you are homeless or not, the dying man was still a human being and still needed help. Ms. Groce also claimed that urbanization and its alienated values had adversely impacted present-day humanity.

In the Gospels, Jesus said that the first shall be last and that the mighty would fall. He also believed in a Judgment of Nations, where the criteria would be based on if the thirsty were given a drink of water, if the hungry were fed, if the naked were clothed, if the sick were cared for, if the homeless were given shelter, and if the landless were given land. He also challenged his followers to be peacemakers and to practice mercy and forgiveness.

His words were actually loaded with threats against Caesar and the Roman Empire. Rome had built its kingdom by conquering and enslaving entire tribes. While violent coliseum games mesmerized Rome’s populace and glorified Caesar’s supremacy, wealth was being imported from foreign colonies. This creating a perpetual cycle of homelessness, poverty and retaliation. God’s Empire, though, was about to clash with Rome’s Empire.

While John the Baptist was in prison and awaiting his execution for criticizing Rome’s Empire and the Romanization of the world, he sent out a group of followers to inquire if Jesus was a messiah-one that would help free Israel and humanity from Rome’s political, economic and social repression. Jesus told them to go back and report that the hungry were fed, the blind received sight, and God’s Kingdom was being preached to the poor.

The Early Church lived this prophetic message, one of liberating the poor and oppressed from Romanization. There were no get-rich schemes, no preaching of nuclear apocalypses, no “God Bless Romes” or “God Bless Americas,” no anointing over just or pre-emptive wars, and no arguing over moving expenses and boxes. Instead, the Early Church found Jesus in others, especially the alien, the stranger, and the dispossessed.

One has to wonder if America will ever receive its sight, in the sense that, a civilization will be judged by how its most vulnerable members are treated, including those it has harmed in the past. Will it ever be liberated too from Americanization and its brutal Cold War conflicts that ravaged Central American nations, where thousands of innocent people were slain and are still buried in mass graves?

Symbolically, Americas imperial order should have been rejected and Christ should have been embraced in the dying man from Guatemala, or given shelter and warmth by housing the homeless. Americas militant corporate values, that have tried to dominate the world and that have caused dehumanization, poverty and misery, not only in Central America but in other parts of the world, should have also been resisted.

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