This week in our parish bulletin our Pastor addressed the issue of poverty and those that are poor. The reason for this was on more than one occasion a woman and her child were begging for money outside our church after mass. While many people suggested she use our Social Services Ministry, she preferred cash. However, the issue of poverty and helping the needy is quite an important one. We are called to take care of those who are poor. The Gospel of Luke is filled with parables and sayings from Jesus telling us that indifference to the poor is unacceptable. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us that our final judgment will depend on how we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger. This is an obligation of all Christians to take care of the poor.
While reading this story in our bulletin, I came across this article in the CNS about Bishop Murry of Ohio writing on this very issue of poverty and taking care of the poor. According to Bishop George Murry in a pastoral letter on poverty, "Jesus said we will always have the poor with us, if each of us stops on our own journey to help a neighbor in need, the kingdom of God will come closer to realization each day". Jesus called upon his followers, he said, "to see and love our neighbors as ourselves. There is a sense that we have lost our historic concern for the poor among us. Sometimes we hear language and share attitudes that deride persons living in poverty," said the bishop, who also is secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The pastoral, "Who Is My Neighbor?" was dated January 2012 to coincide with National Poverty Awareness Month. Poverty "is not a simple problem" because it "involves family dynamics, minimal material resources, missed opportunities, personal fears, complex relationships, cultural norms, geographic locations, isolation and lack of understanding," Bishop Murry said. "Some who are poor are embarrassed to admit they have lost their jobs, their homes, and sometimes even their identity.
Most of our parishes or congregations have Social Services that provide the necessary resources for the poor. Our parish ministry helps out people where ever we can. As our Pastor suggested if you want to help the poor donate to a social service ministry, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate clothing or groceries. These are all things that can help those who are less fortunate and bring about the Kingdom of God.
Here are some words from Blessed Mother Teresa that will help us to really think about the poor: At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in." Hungry not only for food-but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing---but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for a room of bricks-but homeless because of rejection. This is Christ in distressing disguise.
Reprinted with permission from PrepareTheWord.com. ©TrueQuest Communications.