I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
—Matt 25: 35
Befriend those who go without.
Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goats reminds us that Christ is uniquely encountered in acts of love for the poor. Recall that the “love” is equally important as “for the poor.” Learn names, shake hands, embrace, listen attentively, play games, and cultivate friendships. If giving to the homeless has no intention of love, it is devoid of virtue.
Give money to the homeless.
Homelessness traps many in a cycle of instability. Give money to the homeless beggars seeking shelter. A special generosity should be had for those in our communities who are displaced by fire, flood, poverty, or injustice.
Help start GoFundMe’s and local fundraisers for the homeless in your community.
Help the poor pay rent and mortgage.
Many live in the threat of homelessness. Help prevent it by giving money to help pay for rent and mortgage. A special generosity should be had for families and single mothers. Inquire at your local parish for such opportunities.
Purchase shelter for beggars.
Those who live in cities will often come across beggars. Instead of ignoring them, carry small bills to give. Those who do this frequently can establish friendships with the poor, and discover their needs. If it is known to you, purchase blankets, sleeping bags, or tents to give to them. If you, your family or your friends own a retail shop which trades in similar goods or rents out property, create a business charity for this purpose. If you are employed by such an establishment, urge them to do likewise.
Invite them in.
Jesus bids us to encounter Him in the stranger. If we are aware of homeless or poor persons in our communities, we should strive to make room for them. If you own property and can afford to do so, rent it out cheaply or freely for the poor. Petition your pastor and parish community to invite the homeless to live in their buildings. If you can spare the room, invite such persons into your own home. This is especially appropriate to do in those cold and holy seasons of Advent and Christmastide, wherein we can invite Jesus, who as a babe was turned away from the inn, into our own homes to rest his head.
Support homeless shelters.
Inquire at your parish how you can get involved in homeless shelters. If there are no opportunities ask your fellow parishioners and search online for local shelters. If none exist already, establish connections between these shelters and your local parish. Donate, volunteer, and get your friends and family involved. Many shelters need warm blankets for their beds. If you can knit or sew, spend time on such projects.
Fight for housing reform.
In our present economy, many people struggle to afford housing. We need to constantly work for legislation which eradicates injustice. You can email your local governors and politicians. Admonish the Sinner.
House and support refugees.
There are millions of children and families who are on the move, fleeing from war, illness, hunger and impossible living conditions, and searching for peace and safety. Engage parish groups in doing research on the causes and challenges that these families face. Contact Catholic social services, or diocesan offices of peace and justice to help. Seek ways to provide shelter for these persons locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally. Urge your priest, parish, bishop and diocese to take action and offer shelter to those in need.