The Poverty Around Us

Luke 6: 20-26
Col 3:1-11 / Ps 145:2-3,10-13

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.
(Luke 6:23)

We hunger for peace and justice,
We weep for poverty all around,
Trust in the hope of God’s promise
That His love and mercy will abound.

“Fortunate are you who are poor, the kingdom of God is yours.” These words are addressed both as hope to those who are materially poor, and to those who are not poor, but “have the spirit of the poor” (Mt.5:3) in their hearts. “Fortunate are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” Jesus here could be saying that there is a food that is more important than bread. It is a spiritual food that satisfies the soul. As He said in John’s Gospel, “He who feeds on this bread will live forever” (Jn.6:58). But “woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry,” meaning even the little faith that the materially well-off have now will be taken away from them; since they are famished in the Word of God. “Fortunate are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Those who weep for the injustices in this world caused by the rich and powerful will have the last laugh. For God’s justice will in the end prevail. And finally, “Fortunate are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject you, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

Reflection

We cannot be followers of Christ unless we are willing to follow the ‘hard and narrow road that leads to life’. Bro. Hansel, our Programs & Services director, my wife Ollie and I took a short break last Sunday and followed Cleofe, our Dev. officer to one Eco-reach site in the slums of Bangkal to meet 23 ‘nanays’, beneficiaries of the BCBP’s credit for small livelihood projects. Destitution is a polite word to describe the sight, scent, and social stigma that greeted us as we picked our way through the muddy pathways. The poverty shamed us, and convicted us to the very core.

The nanays were very grateful not only for the opportunity of improving their lot in life, however small, but for the hope of human kindness and Christ’s love that we cited as the reason for our coming. But we came away saddened and embittered by the seeming neglect of our society for the least of God’s children. We realized how poor we are in caring for the poor; how hungry and empty we felt in the little help that we could give; and how we can only weep for the misery of so many of our countrymen who wallow in the muck of abject poverty.

One does not have to be a prophet to realize that this Sunday experience was a call to a deeper kind of evangelization. We thank all the brothers and sisters in our community for their contributions to the Eco-reach program. But so much more is needed to make a dent in the battle against poverty. We now feel that we are part of those being sent to appeal to more generous hearts. Help the Lord’s little ones, and you will certainly be greatly rewarded.

Lead us, Lord, to Your generous children, for it is through their kind hearts that Your kingdom will be realized here on earth for their impoverished brethren. Amen.

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