IT'S heart-rending to read of people, many of them young, who are homeless. Some find temporary accommodation in shelters, and others are reduced to living in the open or in their own makeshift ``cardboard city'' as best they can. Most of us who have secure homes and families find it hard to imagine what it must be like to live in such deprivation. There are, of course, many social reasons for homelessness, but frequently the cause is the breakup of a family and the ``couldn't care less'' attitude that often prevails in society.
The family today comes under many pressures and demoralizing influences; unless checked, they could weaken and fragment family life. But we can overcome this materialistic view of disintegrating family life with a more spiritual and accurate concept of God's secure family held under the control of divine Love.
Christ Jesus showed us that we all belong to one family and that this family is spiritual. He taught his disciples to pray ``Our Father which art in heaven.''1 In this view of family presented by the Master, we can perceive that all men, women, and children in their real spiritual being are precious in their Father's sight, and tenderly cared for. Not one of them is comfortless and out in the cold.
I witnessed the truth of this some years ago. I was teaching in a school where all the children came from broken homes and had been placed in residential care. I taught the five- and six-year-olds, and one day a new little girl came into my class. She was sobbing bitterly and seemed inconsolable. She was one of a family of eight children, and her mother had deserted them and her father was in the hospital. When the other children went out to play, I took this child aside and spoke to her gently of her loving Father-Mother God, who every moment cares for all His children. These assurances seemed to comfort her, and she soon settled down happily in her new school.
I had to do quite a lot of praying, however, to feel at peace about this family. And I expected my prayer to be answered and the situation to be resolved -- and it was. After a few months, when the father was fully recovered, he found his wife and persuaded her to come back and care for the children, happily reuniting the family.
We all know what it is like to feel perfectly at home in the company of those we love, whether they are immediate family or friends. We don't know that Jesus had a home, but apparently he lodged at Peter's house and was a welcome guest with his friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. But the Master's true sense of home was not based on a fixed address. He knew that he was always at home in the presence of God, and he spent many hours companioning with his heavenly Father in prayer.
We need never feel alone, either, for whatever our circumstances we are important members of God's universal family. Within its embrace we have countless brothers and sisters. Our loving Father-Mother God is head of this spiritual household; He loves all His children equally and provides all good for them. If this is spiritual reality -- and it is -- then we have an unfailing, God-derived obligation to help the homeless through prayer and through the actions impelled by it. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives us a basis for our prayer for the homeless: ``Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God.''2
With a growing recognition that we are all related to God as His beloved children, we will be helping others to find the assurance and joy of being forever at home in the Father's love.
1Matthew 6:9. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 254.