That two homeless men were shot while they slept under a Portland bridge in the early hours of Ash Wednesday is a violent reminder that the most vulnerable of our population need our protection.
Through the first days of Lent, media reported that the shooting appeared to be a random act of violence. For days, men and women who live on the streets have tried to rest while worrying they could be next.
The dehumanizing nature of this crime is cause for us to remember that, as the homeless population grows, these folks’ visibility seems to decrease. Instead of seeing a man sleeping on the street as a member of the community deserving of your care, he becomes an obstacle to step over as you walk from the parking garage to the restaurant. But that man is someone’s family member, bonded by blood and love.
Members of the homeless community say these senseless acts are commonplace, telling stories of comrades whose are kicked in the head as they sleep at night. Police say these crimes are often not reported, and that many homeless have bought into the viewpoint that, because they have no address to recite when they call 9-1-1, law enforcement will do nothing for them.
Where is the outrage? Christ calls us to action to protect and serve our vulnerable populations —the homeless, the hungry and the impoverished. Remember these people in your actions of almsgiving during this season of Lent, and throughout the year.