A Heart for the Poor

September 9, 2022 | NEW HEARTS

God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart. 

-1 Samuel 16:7

When we see others through eyes of faith, we are not bothered by differences. Instead, we see the beautiful soul God created—a soul that may or may not know God’s love.

God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself “became poor” (2 Cor 8:9). The entire history of our redemption is marked by the presence of the poor. Salvation came to us from the “yes” uttered by a lowly maiden from a small town on the fringes of a great empire. The Saviour was born in a manger, in the midst of animals, like children of poor families; he was presented at the Temple along with two turtledoves, the offering made by those who could not afford a lamb (cf. Lk 2:24; Lev 5:7); he was raised in a home of ordinary workers and worked with his own hands to earn his bread. When he began to preach the Kingdom, crowds of the dispossessed followed him, illustrating his words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). He assured those burdened by sorrow and crushed by poverty that God has a special place for them in his heart: “Blessed are you poor, yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk 6:20); he made himself one of them: “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat”, and he taught them that mercy towards all of these is the key to heaven (cf. Mt 25:5ff.). 

Joy of the Gospel, 197

Recalling Our Lord’s love of the poor allows us the opportunity to assess our own comfort in evangelizing those who look or live differently than we do. Do you notice a certain discomfort or judgment enter when you encounter a homeless person resting in the church pew, a person standing with a sign on the road, or a person approach you to ask for money? 

Do you recognize the soul created by God? 

If the Lord presses it upon your heart to give assistance for one’s corporal needs, don’t stop there. Look into their eyes and notice the soul that resides in the person. To care for the body and neglect the soul is to fail in part of the mission of caring for the poor. It requires a change of heart and mind brought about by God. 

To love the poor is to love the suffering Christ. And embracing this idea changes our hearts too - and draw us closer to the God who became poor himself. 

They have much to teach us. Not only do they share in the sensus fidei, but in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in their lives and to put them at the centre of the Church’s pilgrim way. We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.

 Joy of the Gospel,198

…This entails appreciating the poor in their goodness, in their experience of life, in their culture, and in their ways of living the faith. True love is always contemplative, and permits us to serve the other not out of necessity or vanity, but rather because he or she is beautiful above and beyond mere appearances: “The love by which we find the other pleasing leads us to offer him something freely”. 

Joy of the Gospel, 199

Evangelization goes beyond just inviting friends and those we are comfortable inviting to Mass or parish events. We are called to exercise the gift of courage given to us by God to invite those also on the outskirts into a deeper union with God and into our own community of faith by sharing our very selves with others - even if it takes outside of our usual comfort zone. 

"With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, 

but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us."

-1 Thessalonians 2:8



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