To Open A Door

"At that time Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire." Because of this imperial decree, everyone went to their father's hometown to be counted. But in Rome, as in every principality giving its loyalty to Caesar, there were those who did not count.

Mary, who "gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger" did not count; neither did her baby. And there was no room for them in the inn.

Today when Congress orders a census to be taken throughout the American empire, we count women and children as well as men, at least most of them. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who do not count, and for whom there is no room in the inn. This winter hundreds of God's homeless poor will freeze to death in barns and abandoned buildings, under hedges, and on park benches. Others will survive in these miserable quarters. Perhaps this Advent season, in some old basement behind the Hilton Hotel a child will be born.

In the U.S. there are between 250,000 and 500,000 homeless people, and the number is increasing daily. These are human beings who live and die on the streets. Some wander from city to city and reflect the lingering style of transients who made up the majority of homeless people 20 years ago. The Rescue Missions' and Salvation Army's programs and outreach are designed to reach such transients. But most homeless people today are not traditional transients; they are street people who live in the same city for long periods of time.

The homeless poor are living and dying on our streets. But from an official point of view they do not exist, because without residence a person is not counted--and not to be counted is not to count.

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