This has been a week where Homeless Agencies in Ireland are under severe pressure to continue to help what seems to be a growing crisis among homeless families and rough sleepers. We have seen genuine concern from smaller homeless services, voluntary groups, who bring hot soup and basics around to those sleeping rough in the city each night following comments in the media saying that this isn’t always helpful in the main. The problem is perennial but now in winter time we see the crisis deepen here.
It has been a week when we have seen Bob Geldof giving back his Honorary Freedom of Dublin City because he feels in conscience that he can’t share the same roll of honour as Aung San Suu Kyi. U2 have also expressed criticism of her on their website; “…the violence and terror being visited on the Rohingya people are appalling atrocities and must stop. Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence is starting to look a lot like assent…” The pictures on our television screens of these suffering people are harrowing.
We are also seeing terrible scenes of suffering in Yemen and the BBC reports online today that more than 7,600 people have been killed and 42,000 injured since March 2015. Again, our television screens show is the massive suffering of innocent men, women and children and Yemen is on the brink of famine.
In New York a painting of Christ by Leonardo Da Vinci, ‘Salvator Mundi’, has been sold at auction for 450 million dollars. It has been sold to an anonymous bidder and therefore we don’t know if it will emerge some day for people to see and view. There aren’t too many people who would be able to stump up that kind of cash to buy a painting by Da Vinci I would imagine. And if it was a private collector, who will get to see it again? At least the big museums of the world would afford people the chance to see this and perhaps time will tell.
I was thinking about this after I saw a tweet by Fr. Paddy Byrne (@frpaddybyrne) the other day. He said we can all have a personal life saving friendship with the person this image depicts…for free… I totally agree with this. A life-saving relationship with Jesus Christ fuels all of us to endeavour to make a difference in people’s lives. It spurs people like Sr. Consillio, and Sr. Stan, and Fr. Peter McVerry, and Br. Kevin, and others to help the homeless and those in addiction as they have been doing since the 1960’s and 1970’s. It inspires people, and many of them young professionals; nurses, medics, surgeons, therapists, engineers, social workers, teachers, etc. to give up some years of their lives to travel with the NGO’s, the Red Cross, and Red Crescent, and MSF for example to areas broken by war, disease, and famine. And of course, I am conscious that people may belong to another faith community, and also those who don’t believe in God, and will still work tirelessly to make the world a better place.