Don't Forget the Poor

By Marc Massery

How do you treat the poor? 

Saint Faustina treated them as if they were Jesus Himself. She wrote:

When the same poor people come to the gate a second time, I treat them with greater gentleness, and I do not let them see that I know they have been here before; [I do this] in order not to embarrass them. And then they speak to me freely about their troubles and needs.  Although Sister N. tells me that is not the way to deal with beggars, and slams the door in their faces … . (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1282)

Sometimes, we can be tempted to treat those in need with contempt (like “Sister N” in St. Faustina's Diary). After all, it takes time, effort, and patience to help those in need. Also, didn’t Christ once say, “The poor you will always have with you” (Mt 26:11)? 

It’s true that in this fallen world, we probably won’t ever solve world hunger. But Christ tells us that as people of God, we have an obligation to go out of our way to help the poor and needy. Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). Helping the poor and needy serves as one of the hallmarks of a true Christian Catholic. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them … . The Church’s love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition. (2443-2444)

Saint John Chrysostom put it this way, “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs."

We are called to financially support the poor, but helping the needy doesn't only mean cutting a check. The poor aren't simply those who live in material poverty. The poor include all of the downcast: the depressed, the oppressed, the lonely, the angry, and the afraid. So, if someone desperately needs to talk to you about their problems, lend them an ear. Pray for the courage to visit hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, or homeless shelters, and seek out the lowly.

Almost always, serving the needy will bring us out of our comfort zones. But Jesus didn’t call us to be comfortable — He called us to be servants. Never forget, when you perform a work of mercy, even if you don’t feel like doing it, you fulfill your duty as a Christian Catholic and console the Heart of the Lord and His people. 

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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