The Dignity of the Poor and Homeless ft. Yvonne Chamberlain

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"


That's usually my response to that story, followed by an impending sense of dread. Oh, crap. How often do I walk past panhandlers or the homeless in my own community and do a fat load of nothing? 

I'm so excited to be speaking with Yvonne Chamberlain today. Yvonne used to coordinate a homeless shelter in Columbia, MO, and we talk all about the correct way to treat the poor and homeless. We also talk about the idea that people "deserve" to be poor, the fear of giving panhandlers money when you don't know what they'll use it on, and judging those who've made choices that have left them homeless. It's truly an episode you don't want to miss. 

This episode does offer some concrete things you can do to reach out to the poor in your own community, but it won't solve every question on your heart. That's because sometimes we really won't know these answers until we get to Heaven. But what I hope this episode does is light a fire in you to keep learning, get outside your bubble, and think of the poor and homeless as beloved children of God. 

Topics discussed:

  • How Yvonne got started at Room at the Inn
  • Why it's so important for Catholics to go outside of their own cultural bubbles
  • Giving with our time, talent, AND treasure, not just mindlessly writing checks 
  • How to treat panhandlers and the homeless who beg for money 
  • The dignity of every human person 
  • Common "mistakes" made by Catholics when it comes to the poor 
  • How to help the poor and homeless in your own community 

We mentioned: 

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