Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Homeless Persons' Memorial


December 21st...The first day of winter...The longest night of the year.

The Ignatian Spirituality Project and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless hosted a memorial service to remember those who have died on the street homeless and alone this year. Thousands of people held memorial services across the country and joined in prayerful remembrance.

In a packed Church, strangers sang, worshiped and prayed together.  Over 40 names were solemnly read.  Some were just a name, others included a date or age.  Some had more information: "Jacob, who passed out brochures on Wabash; Patrice, from Millennium Park".  And still others were listed as "Unknown Person".

Last night as we read the Christmas Story from Luke, I recalled that Mary and Joseph were also without a home when they welcomed Jesus into the world.  Did they share the same fears of many of our guests?  Do people who are homeless in our city feel like there is 'no place for them at the inn?'  Where would Mary deliver Jesus today?  When do we "say" 'there's no room for you here'?

Let us continue the prayer we shared last night as we remember this holy time of year:

Just as a mother can never forget her child, so you will never forget us.
Bless the memory of our homeless brothers and sisters who have died...
May their memory stir us in greater compassion 
for those who still wander homeless in our city's streets
May their memory ignite within us greater desire 
to confront the injustices of society that lead to homelessness.