In the early days of January we expect cold temperatures. We expect snow, ice, and highs reaching only into the teens or 20 degrees (Fahrenheit). But the icy cold blast that has covered the eastern half of the United States yesterday and today is much colder than we normally expect. The temperature began falling drastically Monday morning and is not even expected to reach zero today. That compounded with the high winds leaves the temperature feeling as cold as -30 deg. F with the wind chill factor. There’s not other way to say it…it is cold!
As with any large weather phenomenon, the cold weather is making the headlines, dominating news broadcasts, and consuming most casual conversations. The storm has left many without power or heat as well.
We talk about the cold while we sit inside our warm houses, bundled up under cozy blankets with a hot cup of tea or cocoa. We complain about how cold it was outside as we walked to our cars and how it took several minutes for them to start and warm up. But truthfully, we have absolutely nothing to complain about.
It is in these most harsh of conditions that I cannot help but think of those who do not have a warm home to stay in. Who do not have cozy blankets, warm food or a nice hot cup of cocoa. Those who are out in the cold much longer than to simply start a car. There are thousands of people homeless in our country, not to mention throughout the world. Some of these folks may find a place to sleep but even during the day these temperatures are frigid and dangerous.
This morning I contacted my mother to ensure that she had heard from my grandparents this morning as there were numerous reports of power outages and homes without heat in the city where they live. But what about people who do not have loved ones to call in and check up on them? People who are huddled in corners and doorways bundled up as best they can without a family member to stop by and check in?
We do not know how or why some of these folks have landed in this position. We may not know if they have been offered help or not. We do not know if they are suffering from addiction while they are out in the cold. What we do know is they are children of God.
What can we do to help out these souls battling frigid temperatures, some of them completely on their own? Of course we can donate to a local shelter or charity. Places like Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, or any number of local homeless shelters and organizations that seek to provide food, shelter, and help for those who are looking to start again. Any donation, whether it be monetary, food items, clothing items, or a donation of your time to volunteer at a local organization, makes a difference.
Above all, we can pray. God knows who these people are. He formed them in His image. He loves them. He hears their prayers just as He hears our own. He hears our prayers to watch over those with no place to go, those who are cold, hungry, and lonely. Those without shelter or heat. He hears our prayers for a greater sense of compassion to enter the hearts of us all , to thaw the deep freeze not just in the weather outside but in our hearts and the hearts of all people, so that we all might better help our fellow neighbor.
So today and throughout the winter, as we stay cozy and warm inside our homes, let us be thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on us. Let us all remember to help those in need whenever we are able. And let us all join in prayer together,
+Father in Heaven, we thank You each and every day for the blessings You have given us. Thank You, Lord, for our warm homes, our food, our heat in this time of frigid cold, and for our loving families who surround us. Help us, O God, to be moved by Your Holy Spirit to help the cold, the hungry, and the homeless in whatever way we can. Watch over all your children, especially those who do not have shelter or warmth and who are lonely and despairing in these cold winter months. Help them to seek You and to know that You are with them. We pray that Your Holy Spirit might thaw the deep freeze in the hearts of men so that we all might see You in the face of the homeless men, women, and children and be moved to compassion. In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.+