Jesus encountered a man who lived in a cemetery. The man was not in his right mind. He was possessed by a demon that had isolated him from the rest of the community. Rather than avoid the man, Jesus interacted with him (treated him as a human being) and ultimately healed him and returned him to his home.
Questions for Reflection:
- What is your typical reaction to people live in places that are not intended for overnight accommodations—like viaducts, parks, doorways?
- Are you more likely to avoid them or interact with them? Why?
- Do you think people are homeless because they are mentally ill or are they mentally ill because they are homeless?
- How can you help people avoid isolation?
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
In the 1980’s the state of Illinois shifted its provision of mental health services from an institutional model to a community-based model. While well intentioned (place people in community), the result was often devastating to individuals and communities because there were not enough resources to meet their needs. As a result, thousands of people who were “deinstitutionalized” ended up homeless. Veterans, suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and inability to reintegrate into their communities also make up a significant portion of the homeless population. Last year, Chicago closed or cut back city neighborhood mental health clinics. This year, due to the Illinois budget impasse, Lutheran Social Services announced it would discontinue 30 programs. Call your state representative and senators to tell them, “Restore mental health funding!”