Friday, August 9, 2013

Where Would Jesus Live?

In yesterday's blog post, I wrote this post about buying a new house and then coming across the Gospel where Jesus talks about selling what we own and giving alms to the poor.  I've been spending days moving possessions from the old house to the new house.  It's very intriguing to see the difference in the neighborhoods.

In our old neighborhood, all sorts of people wander through, and many of them are down on their luck.  Others look like they might be threatening; I assume that the thuglike appearance buys them some protection, but I am the middle-aged, white woman who will cross the street when thug-looking people come down the sidewalk.  I'll avoid confrontation if I can, and I'll give myself a head start if the pedestrian traffic looks scary.

However, I'm also aware that God often appears in the middle of the poor, destitute, and outcast.  As I've travelled from neighborhood to neighborhood, I've asked myself, "Where would Jesus live?"

I suspect my old neighborhood--plenty of people in need of his ministrations in my old neighborhood.  I feel somewhat guilty for fleeing to a better neighborhood and living in what I hope will be a better housing investment.  I doubt that Jesus would be thinking about the appreciation of houses.

This morning it occurred to me that Jesus might resist having a house at all.  The Gospels show us a Messiah who is constantly on the move.  I think of that poignant passage where Christ talks about the son of Man having no place to lay his head.

I think back to the interchange Jesus had with the young, rich man, where Jesus tells him to sell his possessions, and the rich man can't.  Am I that person?  Does Jesus want me to take up my shopping cart and walk beside the poor?

Those of you who have been reading this blog know that I routinely wrestle with these social justice issues, and I expect that I always will.  I can justify my comfortable existence by saying that I can do more to advocate for the poor from my middle-class perch, but that's a cop-out, and I know it.

I continue to idealize all those communities who live in solidarity with the poor.  I want to be Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement who did so much to house the poor.  But I want comfort too.

I don't have easy answers.  I wish that I did.  I will continue to pray for all of those people, so many humans, who don't have my housing options.  I will continue to do what I can to move towards a future where everyone has a safe space to stay.  I will continue to look for ways to be an advocate for the poor and dispossessed--because God mandates those options, and because when God took on human form, God sought refuge there.

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