Serving suffering people brings us closer to God




I latterly went to Mass at a straightforward little church in Seffner, Florida, named after St. Francis of Assisi. It was clearly not a rich church with all of the flowery trimmings — nevertheless, it certainly had one factor additional treasured than gold.

You see, the congregation takes considerably Christ’s phrases in St. Matthew’s Gospel: “I was hungry and you gave to me eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in: naked and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison and you came to me.”

The disciples have been perplexed and requested him after they’d ever seen him in such horrible circumstances.

His reply revealed the deeply mystical dimension of Christianity, “As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.”

In fact, we encounter God in most likely essentially the most surprising areas — the street nook, the jail, the hospital, the nursing dwelling, the homeless shelter.

Christian acts of mercy differ radically from secular social work. The social worker needn’t think about in God when she helps the poor, nevertheless, the Christian seeks the face of Christ as he ministers to suffering people.

Christ’s phrases in St. Matthew’s Gospel impressed “the corporal works of mercy,” which entail feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, garments the naked, visiting the sick and the imprisoned, sheltering the homeless and burying the lifeless.

As an occasion, this Florida congregation fingers out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, scorching espresso, and cookies each day to any needy one which stops by. Once each week, the congregation hosts a scorching supper for the hungry, free of price.

When I used to be there, the bulletins included a reputation for model new or gently used footwear, socks, and underwear for the church’s Clothing Closet, which helps of us struggling to afford life’s necessities.

On one of the best ways out of Mass, I noticed two slots inside the wall, the place people would possibly give money — one marked merely “the poor” and the alternative earmarked “dinner ministry.”

What intrigued me was the hands-on side of this congregation’s ministry. Many of us contribute money to organizations that current meals, shelter, and garments to the poor, nevertheless, we may on no account meet a poor particular person face to face.

Mother Teresa talked about that needy people often prolonged for quite a lot of phrases from people who’re serving to them. As she put it, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.”

It will likely be tempting to resolve the youthful, apparently healthful man who stands by the roadside with a “will work for food” sign. It’s easy to say, “He could easily get a job! He’s just lazy.”

But he could possibly be suffering from psychological illness or dependency that makes discovering — and holding — a job not doable.

The Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta has a sandwich-making ministry throughout which volunteers put collectively a complete bunch of lunches for a downtown shelter with meals donated by the congregation. They moreover assemble snack baggage which is handed out every day to hungry people on the Cathedral.

No questions are requested, no papers are signed, no judgments are made.

Christ didn’t say to feed the hungry besides they’ve been sturdy enough to uncover a job, nor did he say to go to prisoners supplied that they’ve been sorry for his or her crimes.

And mysteriously enough, his phrases to his disciples have been prophetic on account of as he died on the cross, he was thirsty, hungry, imprisoned and naked — and no person confirmed his mercy.

His message about “the least of these” requires a leap of faith in our hearts. When we current mercy to the misfits, the undesirable, the homeless and the dying, we’re in a mystical technique ministering to God himself.

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