On Christmas night 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited a Salvation Army shelter in London. A thousand homeless men were enjoying a special Christmas dinner. He spoke to them as they ate, reminding them that Jesus had been poor and that it was easier for the poor than the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The men were enthralled. Some were so impressed that, in spite of their hunger and the rare dinner set before them, they forgot to eat. As He left the shelter, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave the warden of the shelter some money with which to buy a similar dinner on New Year’s night. The men rose to their feet to cheer Him as He went, waving their knives and forks in the air. They hardly knew the decades of persecution that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had suffered for Bahá’u’lláh – trials greater than even these men knew.
Later, on Christmas day, He visited Lord Lamington. In the evening He went to a Salvation Army hostel, where some five hundred of society’s wrecks were gathered. He spoke to them, and donated twenty guineas to the hostel to provide them with a good meal and another night, as His guests. He also inspected the sleeping accommodation of the hostel, and a children’s home as well. When He reached Cadogan Gardens that night, it was apparent that the sight of the condition of the unfortunate had distressed Him. A good many of His talks, in His drawing-room during the Christmas week, were concerned with the Birth and the Advent of Christ and the significance of baptism. One day He walked for an hour or so in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Afterwards He went to a Christmas party for the impoverished. Wherever He came across children He showed them such kindness and consideration that some of them thought He was Father Christmas, and sang a song in His praise. At His London home, that day, He related an incident of days long past in ‘Akká:
‘I encountered a number of the poor who were very hungry, and they came to me a-begging. I pointed out a grocer’s shop to them that was well-provisioned, and told them to help themselves and eat all they could; I would be responsible. As soon as they heard me say that, those hungry ill-starred people made a rush and looted the shop. The shopkeeper was screaming that he was being robbed, but no one took any notice of him. They were eating even the uncooked rice, and took provisions away with them.’ Later, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá compensated the grocer.
(H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 351)