So there we have it!!
This goes all the way back to the Old Covenant
This is all through the New Testament
Paragraph 2443 says, “God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: ‘Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you’; ‘you received without pay, give without pay.’ It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When ‘the poor have the good news preached to them,’ it is the sign of Christ’s presence.”
The corporal works of mercy are feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, burying the dead, giving alms to the poor
This is the test that is laid out in Matthew Ch 25
Did you do that for the least of your brethren?
As often as you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for Jesus
As often as you have not done it for the least of these, you have not done it for Jesus
At the end of time, there will be the separation of the sheep and the goats
The test is, “Do I know Him? Have I served Him in those who needed to be served, or did I ignore him in those who needed to be served?”
Remember how people cry out, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, naked, ill, or in prison and not visit you?”
“As often as you did it or didn’t do it for the least of these, you did it or didn’t do it for me.”
THIS IS CRITICAL FOR OUR ETERNITY!!
Paragraph 2444 says, “‘The Church’s love for the poor…is a part of her constant tradition.’ This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to ‘be able to give to those in need.’ It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.”
There have been times when the Church’s members have not always lived this way
It is part of the Church’s tradition to care and have a preferential love for the poor just like God does
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike talk about Pope Sixtus II and Lawrence…
Lawrence showed Valerian the treasure of the Church, the poor, the blind, the crippled, hurting people
Lawrence looked at life the way Jesus looked at life
He was martyred by being grilled alive and said, “Ok, you can flip me over now. I am done on this side.”
Who of us could ever think of doing that?
Who among us really really truly believes that the riches of the Church are not the Vatican museum?
Who among us really really truly believes that the true riches of the Church are the poor, the hurting, the blind, the lame, the suffering
That is what the Church teaches
There are two quotes from the Letter of James
“Come now, you rich. Weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted. And their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.”
“He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none, and he who has food must do likewise.”
St. Gregory the Great said, “When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours.”
More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice
The Church sees caring for the poor as an act of justice
When someone has nothing, to give them something is simply giving them what they are owed
When someone has no coat, to give them a coat is simply giving them what they are owed
When someone has no food, to give them your food is simply giving them what is owed to them
This is the challenging truth of the Catholic Church
“Ok, God. GIve me that preferential love you have. Give me that love that you have for those among us who are the weakest, those among us who are in most need.”
Remember what mercy is?
God loves us and pours out His love for us
The highest form of God’s love is mercy
Mercy is the love that we need the most and deserve the least
God has poured out His mercy and love upon us that we needed the most
God is so good that He has made us His adopted sons and daughters by His life, death, and Resurrection
We did nothing to deserve this
We deserve it the least
It is the love we need the most
That is why the Church teaches that this is an act of justice, not strictly speaking an act of love
To take care of the poor is what we owe them
How does that look in practice?
It looks different in every person’s life
Here is a reminder of how we are to approach loving the poor among us
St. John Chrysostom said, “Do you want to honor Christ’s body? THen do not scorn him in his nakedness nor honor him here in the Church with silken garments while neglecting him outside, where he is cold and naked. For he who said, ‘This is my body,’ and made it so by his words also said, ‘You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me.’ What we do here in the Church requires a pure heart, not special garments. What we do outside requires great dedication. Let us learn therefore to be men of wisdom and to honor Christ as he desires. For a person being honored finds greatest pleasure in the honor he desires, not in the honor we think best. Peter thought he was honoring Christ when he refused to let him wash his feet. But what Peter wanted was not truly an honor. Quite the opposite. Give him the honor prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor, for God does not want golden vessels, but golden hearts. Now in saying this, I am not forbidding you to make such gifts. I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them, you give alms. He accepts the former, but he is much more pleased with the latter. In the former, only the giver profits. In the latter, the recipient does too. A gift to the Church may be taken as a form of ostentation, but an alms is pure kindness. Of what use is it to weigh down Christ’s table with golden cups when he himself is dying of hunger? First, fill him when he is hungry. Then use the means you have left to adorn his table. Will you have a golden cup made but not give a cup of water? What is the use of providing the table with cloths woven of gold thread and not providing Christ himself with the clothes he needs? What profit is there in that? Tell me. If you were to see him lacking the necessary food but were to leave him in that state and merely surround his table with gold, would he be grateful to you? Or rather, would he not be angry? What if you were to see him clad in worn out rags and stiff from the cold and were to forget about clothing him and instead, were to set up golden columns for him saying that you were doing it in his honor. Would he not think he was being mocked and greatly insulted? Apply this also to Christ when he comes along the roads as a pilgrim looking for shelter. You do not take him in as your guest, but you decorate floor and walls and the capitals of the pillars. You provide silver chains for the lamps, but you cannot bear even to look at him as he lies chained in prison. Once again, I am not forbidding you to supply these adornments. I am urging you to provide these other things as well and indeed, to provide them first. No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments. But for those who neglect their neighbor, a hell awaits with an inextinguishable fire and torment in the company of the demons. Do not therefore adorn the Church and ignore your afflicted brother for he is the most precious temple of all.”
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike talk about building a church up in Duluth, Minnesota…
What we do in the Church requires a pure heart, not special garments
What we do outside requires great dedication
We can’t forget the fact that God has called all of us to take care of Him in the distressing disguise of the poor
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT…