Friday, September 2, 2011

Who Will Be Justice For the Poor?

Saint Lawrence Distributing Alms to the Poor by Angelico Fra

We recently celebrated the memory of St. Lawrence, who was an advocate for the poor and needy, widows, orphans, and marginalized, as we all are called to be. In the above painting we see him distributing alms to the poor. While I have no desire to be grilled alive, he cared for the poor to the end in his great act of justice for the poor.

We are also coming up on the feast of St. Gregory the Great (September 3) who was a deacon long before he became pope, and he too ministered to those within his reach. In the stained glass window below, we see Pope Gregory the Great feeding the poor at his own table, which he did every day. Unbeknownst to him, Christ was one of the strangers he invited to his table.

(Stained glass window of Pope St. Gregory the Great from Saint Meinrad Archabbey Church)

Those of us involved in outreach to the poor and needy, such as soup kitchens and St. Vincent de Paul recognize that we are being inundated with calls for assistance with power, rent, and food, among other necessities. This is a cry for justice for the poor, as we read and chant in the psalms daily.

I am not a great organizer, but if 19 terrorists could wreak so much havoc ten years ago, imagine if only 19 of us decided to get the word out that the local pantries are in great need? Or better yet, what if we began to be the salt and the light we are called, and loved others as Christ loves us.

Wherever we are, it seems that now, more than ever, the poor need a voice that each of us can-and should-provide. Justice and mercy have embraced. The prophets have told us what we must do: Act with justice, love mercifully, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

If every one of us does a little, no one has to do a lot.

May the words of St. Benedict, which Gregory lived by as a Benedictine, spur us on to charity and justice: "Relieve the lot of the poor.Clothe the naked. Visit the sick...Help those in trouble. Console the sorrowing. Be a stranger to the world's ways. And prefer nothing to the love of Christ" (RB. Ch. 4:14-21).

1 comment:

  1. I am very willing to help those who are suddenly inpoverished through no fault of their own. But I get a little nervous when people start talking about social justice nowadays. Typically it often means taking more of my very hard-earned dollars and giving them (via taxation) to people who -- many of whom -- have been on the welfare dole for three and four generations. Social justice ought to have some requirements of the recipient -- to get jobs, regardless how menial they may be. It was people who took menial jobs who built this great nation. I am concerned when we offer sappy love to people trained by our society to be lazy and expect me and others who work hard for our money to just hand my salary over to them. Even St. Paul said, if someone is not willing to work, they shouldn't eat (2 Thess 3:10). Again, I am not talking about those who are impoverished through no fault of their own. But those (happily) are in the tiny minority of people on the government dole.