I love what Pope Francis and others are doing.
A chance meeting between a Catholic bishop and a homeless person in Rome resulted in the bishop inviting the street person to dinner. But he demurred, saying that he was too smelly to eat with a bishop. The bishop prevailed, and at the dinner the homeless man said that while Rome did a good job of making sure that the homeless are not starving, it was more difficult for the homeless to stay clean.
The bishop took this to heart, and created a groundswell of action. A construction firm volunteered to install showers in parishes that don’t already have them. Famous singer Andrea Bocelli made a substantial donation to the cause, and Pope Francis is having the toilets at the Vatican itself, which are close to his personal apartment, upgraded to include public showers for the millions of pilgrims and visitors who come to the Vatican every year.
When asked if well-off visitors would object to sharing the toilets with the homeless, the bishop said “The Basilica exists in order to keep the Body of Christ, and we serve Jesus’s suffering body by serving the poor.” He also echoed the statement that Pope Francis said when he became pope, that the church should be a “poor church, for the poor”.
An unrelated story finds an apprentice barber in Melbourne Australia giving haircuts to the homeless on the street for free. It is amazing how one’s physical image can affect their self image. One homeless person said right after his haircut “I’ve gone from questioning why am I sitting here to … it’s good to be alive”. Another homeless man, who can’t recall the last time he had a haircut or a shave, looks in a mirror afterward and says “Oh my god! Who is that guy?” and “I’m more than happy with the result. I’m actually rapt!”.
The barber is modest about what he is doing, saying “People think that I’m doing them a favour, nah… it’s actually a 50/50 relationship. They’re helping me do something I love and in return they get a fresh look.”