Encountering God through the Homeless

March 7, 2023
Archdiocese of Baltimore

Where have I met God in my life? This is a question I ask myself each day and even each moment in my life. Indeed, I experience God talking to me every day, and I can recognize and hear His voice. In particular, I have recently encountered God through the homeless. 

I still remember that day. It was winter, and the temperature was around 22 degrees. The day was a bit gloomy, and the winds were blowing frosty air to all corners of the street. It was not snowing, but this low temperature made things become lifeless and people felt unpleasant. I was walking out of the Patient First Center—where I had gotten a Covid-test, and I saw a homeless person standing on a median island in the middle of the road, begging for money. 

At that scene, many questions started rising in my mind: what is going to happen to the homeless person now that he has to be in the freezing weather asking people for money to survive every day? Where does he stay when the night comes? Does he have relatives who can help him? Is he cold in this kind of weather?

In fact, I could not explain it clearly, but from the depth of my heart and my conscience, I felt like somebody was talking to me and asking me to help the homeless person who is desperately in need right now in front of me, who is feeling cold, who might be hungry, who might need help at this time… It was hard for me to describe the person who was talking to me, but I believe that was the voice of God talking to me in my heart. 

And, yes, indeed, I was moved by this voice in my conscience and by the sight of the homeless person, who reminded me of the infant Jesus. Our Lord experienced severe weather when He was born into the world. He Himself was a homeless person because there were no vacancies in the inn, and who was vulnerable in the wilderness outside of Bethlehem. The more I looked at the homeless person, the more I realized God’s voice is inviting and calling me to do something for this homeless person.

While I did not give the homeless person money, I ordered a hamburger with French-fries, one regular, and one diet Coca-Cola. Having gone out from the store, I greeted the homeless person and asked if he wanted a diet or regular Coca-Cola. He wanted the regular. I gave him the bag with the hamburger and a Coca-Cola, and I said, “I do not have much money, but I bought this for you, I hope you enjoy it.” After he thanked me, and I told him that, while I wished to speak to him more, I needed to head home. Leaving him, I said “I hope everything will be going well with you.”

The homeless person once again said to me, “Thanks and God bless you.”  

            Through things that I have faced, and events I have encountered, I feel joyful and grateful for the presence of God every moment in my life. God talks to me not only in my conscience but also through people surrounding me. Indeed, He shows me the way that I should go, guides me in the things that I should do, and leads me on the path that I should follow.  

Thang Pham is in 1st Theology at Saint Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, MD. Thang’s home parish is St. Ursula’s in Parkville. Please pray for Thang!