This image is the result of a number of coincidental elements
First was an encounter with a couple of homeless guys in Durham. They asked me for money and without thinking I gave them what change I had. I then spent the next 30 minutes talking with them, finding out about their lives, hearing their stories. What struck me was how alcohol had played a significant part in both their stories. People drink for different reasons; coping with stress is a common one. I asked them what they hoped for their future; one said he had no hope – he had given up.
Later I was studying and read a quote from ‘Being a Deacon today’:
“You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the Tabernacle if you do not pity Jesus in the slum. It is folly – it is madness – to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the sacraments and Jesus on the throne of glory when you are sweating him in their bodies and souls of his children. you have your mass, … you have your altars, now go out into the highways and hedges and look for Jesus in the ragged and the naked, in the oppressed and the sweated, in those who have lost hope, and in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus in them and when you have found him, gird yourself with his towel of Fellowship and wash his feet in the person of his brethren.” (Frank Weston)
And it was as I read ‘Look for Jesus … in those who have lost hope’ that it made sense because I had met such a man but could not figure out how to help him. I know he needs redemption, I know that Christ can heal and restore people and all it takes is faith. But he has given up hope and I’m not sure that hope can exist without faith.
The College communion service had three pieces of scripture, the first two were:
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 which begins “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view” and again I am thinking about this homeless guy.
The second scripture is from Luke 15:1&2, 11-24 and it is the story of the prodigal son but the verse 2 has these lines: “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then the idea began to form and I suddenly understood what Jesus would do for the homeless guy. He would quite simply be his friend, love and care for him, welcome him and eat with him. That is what the image is all about.
I cannot bring the homeless population of Durham home with me, but maybe I can take a bit of time to befriend some of them. Maybe something could be done to help them more but as yet I don’t know what or rather I don’t know how.