Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor!
It seems only fitting, in this month of the canonization of St. Teresa of Kolkata, to shine a light on the poor and our call to serve them.
The book of Amos admonishes us if we cheat or take advantage of the poor. The Lord will never forget what we have done or not done.
It sure sounds like we have an obligation to be honest and generous to the poor. But who are the poor? When I asked the kids at St. Mary School this question, they gave some insightful replies:
"They are people who don’t have enough to eat," one said. Or "the poor don’t have shoes or houses," said another. I think Jesus and St. Teresa would agree with the kids, but is there more to being poor?
When I was 9, St. Teresa came and spoke at Marquette University in Milwaukee where my dad worked, and my family went to hear her. I remember the powerful presence of God that seemed to overshadow her. When Mother Teresa spoke about poverty she seemed to see poverty in new ways. In fact, she said the United States was one of the poorest countries in the world.
This would seem to be false based on our material wealth, but she clarified. She saw that nakedness, hunger and poverty come to many through loss of human dignity, loneliness, isolation and lack of love. She pointed out that despite having so much we had many who were hungry for love – the elderly, young people and those who feel abandoned.
This summer, we grew a garden and took the produce to the poor at the Norfolk Rescue Mission. Many parishes have efforts to help the materially poor, but do we see the other types of poverty in those around us? Maybe it is someone in our town, our parish or even our own family who needs love and affirmation. Since all of us have an obligation to help the poor, find someone this week in need and share God’s love with them.
Remember, as St. Teresa reminds us, when we serve the poor, we serve Christ.
Father Timothy Forgét is pastor of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish in Randolph and St. Mary of the Seven Dolors Parish in Osmond. Contact him at email@example.com.