Finding a place for strangers

Fr. Tom Glennon
December 12, 2010

The double-length bus crawled slowly along the evening streets of Wuhan. It was one of the early Columban trips back to where our Mission Society had begun. The year was 1984, the place was a newly-opening China.

Foreigners were limited to certain cities and hotels. Every few blocks the bus driver would stop and run into the nearby hostel with a question.

“No foreigners allowed,” was the regular answer. Gradually the other passengers got off at their stops. The driver informed me that there was only one more place before the bus reached the end of the line.

I was becoming more worried and wondered where I might stay.

My companion for this initial journey of mine to China was Fr. Ned Kelly. But he had taken ill just before departing Hong Kong. I had been relying on his expertise in anticipation. Unfortunately, I was on this trip alone.

What was it like for Mary and Joseph? Seeking shelter? Traveling in unfamiliar areas? How did they cope with their lack of a place for the Christ Child to be born?

Certainly, my search for a place to sleep was a small discomfort compared to the basic necessities which were lacking for Joseph and Mary.

For the past ten years I have accompanied other people in search of housing and a place to live. My mission service included working with people in Chicago who had no home. They stayed in the streets, parks, and in shelters. In collaboration with others, I was able to help some of these people find a place to stay, a basic human right.

Let us reflect on those who search for housing, shelter and safety. May the Light which guided the First Family shine for all of us to as we attend to the needs of one another. We are all members of the human family; in faith we are sisters and brothers in Christ.