Previously I wrote two reflections on poverty and they encompass the poor in a way that should move our sense of compassion for those who are disenfranchised and cannot speak for themselves. These are those who in a more profound essence suffer, not just from financial or psychological needs, but fractioning dimensions of physical pain, an existence of lying at deaths doorstep, and without little hope of anything the rest of us take for granted, are the most loved of God’s children. Here is where a real ministry lies wide open for one who wishes to take the mantle of God’s Grace and reach into the very depths of suffering humanity. It isn’t an inventive expression of doing something to please God and therefore receiving His Blessings for doing this, but it should become an extension of the Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, and the influx of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, promotion, and the revealing touch of the Father’s Grace that induces our life of concern way above our own needs and comfort zone. Here is where the powerful Love of God will reach into lives that so many have written off, thrown away as non-important, and especially a problem for society’s manner of viewing these people as useless. “The poor you will always have with you!” Jesus said in a way that should not become an eye-clasping cover-up, but an edict to look, find, and love each person who needs mercy, comforting hands and hearts, and love that comes with each touch from one who cares, has passionate love, and a compassionate understanding.
Let’s think of our own baptism that should not become an event that required a Sacrament to advance to the next ecclesial step within our church, but an edict that opens the mind and heart of the believer (perhaps a number of years hence) to the purpose God has placed before each of His created children. As Jesus stated clearly in many parables we are not chosen and given gifts by the Holy Spirit to enjoy, show off, or exult ourselves without sharing each one of these special treasures with the poor we encounter. Poor of course is more than an absence of the world’s goods, but those whom spiritual dryness is imminent and the only refreshment can come from God’s guiding us to reach out and evangelize in a most profound manner.
Many are the opportunities each of us will find in a moment of encountering needy people to whom we are sent. We may not realize the reason or inconvenience discovered in an event we may find ourselves at any given experience, but know that if there is a need we may be the solution and presence God has chosen to alleviate the problem. How often people will pray that God does something to help another; and we become that help with gifts given at baptism. St. Irenaeus believes all gifts are given us at Baptism even if they all never completely become apparent.
Baptism in and of itself becomes the directive from God to use the gifts so freely given in the Sacrament for the institution of enriching and promoting God’s Kingdom here on earth. Of course Confirmation is the Sacrament that expiates the gifts given at Baptism. It is not a stand-alone Sacrament but a completion of the two-part Sacrament of Initiation (not excluding the Eucharist as the third Sacrament of Initiation) to evangelize and build God’s Kingdom of which we are a crucial part.
I am writing another reflection on Baptism, but feel it is imperative to use this element here to show how necessary our Christian Baptism becomes in reaching the disenfranchised of humanity and bringing them to God through understanding, compassion, and a compassionate sense of belonging within the human race as God’s creatures with dignity and love.
There are quite a few people in ministry that their only activity is spent with street people and to some their altar is found at a dumpster or gutter with homeless and dirty looking humans with only despair as their outlook. Jesus met people where they were and not in a clean and brightly illuminated temple. His closest companions were beggars, prostitutes, sinners, and outcasts from society. If you want to do God’s Will look to the ghettos and the disenfranchised of society. There you will discover the heart of humanity and God’s chosen people; those whom the upper-class for the most part have neglected, turned away from, and looked down on with disdain. Yes, the poor you will always have with you, but do not look upon them as the neglected scraps of society; but the way of finding heaven’s gilded road.