"The Lord hears the cry of the poor; blessed by The Lord."
Nothing unusual about that. What followed was, indeed, unusual.
Iman Dr. Tahir Kukiqi of the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center was at the pulpit reciting from the Quran in his native language (just hours after a deadly earthquake had struck his homeland). It was, he explained, a message of hope -- and he ended his remarks by proclaiming, "God bless the United States of America." A video snippet follows.
Bishop Victor Brown of the Mt. Sinai Christian Church, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of the New York Board of Rabbis and Rev. Que English of The Bronx Christian Fellowship Church also offered readings, remarks and prayers.
The theme among all these religious leaders was a re-commitment to eradicating homelessness. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan remarked, "If we don't speak out on behalf of the homeless, who will?"
|Mayor de Blasio at the pulpit|
Then Mayor Bill de Blasio stepped to the pulpit to remind all that the homeless are no different than any one of us.
"Every one of them fell down for a reason; it's our job to pick them back up," the mayor said.
He asked any who know of homeless individuals among their families or acquaintances to call New York's 311 hotline. City agents will work on individualized plans to bring loved ones to shelter.
Cardinal Dolan ended the simple interfaith prayer ceremony by noting that he would soon see his family for Thanksgiving, and that there are three words that universally give people a sense of warmth and joy:
"I'm going home."
|Cardinal Dolan greeting students|
Is this really an insolvable situation? Can prayer really help? Can money?
Relatedly, I received an email today from my alma mater, Notre Dame, on the 177th anniversary of the university's founding. It includes a wish for a Happy Thanksgiving, and this link to students in Our Lady's Concert Choir singing "The Road Home," Stephen Paulus' musical adaptation of a poem by Michael Dennis Browne.
Its next-to-last line is both eloquent and haunting: "There is no such beauty as where you belong."
Tell me where is the road I can call my own,
That I left, that I lost, So long ago?
All these years I have wandered,
Oh when will I know
There's a way, there's a road
That will lead me home?
After the wind, after rain, when the dark is done,
As I wake from a dream in the gold of day,
Through the air there's a calling
From far away,
There's a voice I can hear
That will lead me home.
Rise up, follow me, Come away, is the call,
With the love in your heart as the only song;
There is no such beauty as where you belong,
Rise up, follow me, I will lead you home.