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).