What a wonderful illustration of the great divide. This delightful cartoon tells the story of one of my favorite quotes.
“The distance between us and the poor is the distance between us and God.”
A church that is happy and taking its ease during these times is a church that doesn’t comprehend the love of God, or the gospel of Jesus Christ. And any Christian leader that isn’t outraged at our government’s treatment of the poor and marginalized needs to wake up and pay attention.
Farm subsidies for millionaire politicians is morally repugnant when the poor , hungry and homeless of our nation are accused of being the problem. When are we going to live up to the values we profess?
O GOD, Almighty and merciful, who heals those that are broken in heart, and turns the sadness of the sorrowful to joy; Let your fatherly goodness be upon all that you have made. Remember in pity those who are this day destitute, homeless, or forgotten by their fellow men. Bless the congregation of your poor. Uplift those who are cast down. For those who suffer innocently, I pray that you will sanctify their endurance of the wrongs worked on them, keeping their hearts free of bitterness. Cheer with hope all discouraged and unhappy people, and help those who are tempted into sin by their poverty; though they be troubled on every side, suffer them not to be distressed; though they be perplexed, save them from despair. Grant this, O Lord, for the love of him, who for our sake endured poverty and blameless suffering, your Son, our Jesus Christ. Amen.
(an anonymous prayer found on the internet)
Here are some of the 150 homeless men, women and children invited to the Sistine Chapel yesterday by Pope Francis. The Pope met privately with them, asked for their prayers and said, “This is your home.” Afterwards they were invited to a special dinner.
This beautiful photo is itself a meditation on many truths: First, we are reminded of St. Lawrence bringing the poor to a third-century Roman emperor and saying, “Here are the true treasures of the church.” Indeed, here they are: the greatest treasures of the church before the greatest artistic treasure. Second, it is a unique meditation on the communion of saints, above and below. The people in this photo, seated below, are part of the great communion of saints, who are included in Michelangelo’s masterpiece, which depicts not only those going to hell but the saved, those being invited into heaven. And what is the litmus test for entrance into heaven? As Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel, it is how you treat the poor. Third, it is a meditation on humility. The Pope asked that no photos of himself be taken. Fourth, it is a meditation on how the church can treat the poor: the way that the father treats the prodigal son in Jesus’s parable in Luke’s Gospel: lavishly, prodigally, over the top. Why should we stint when it comes to helping the poor? Finally, it is a meditation on joy. Look at the faces of these these men and women when they are treated as human beings, and not simply as objects of charity or as bothersome problems in our cities and towns. The Joy of the Gospel, Evangelium Gaudium, is real, and it can be found here on earth.
(Photo from L’Osservatore Romano.)