The title of this essay comes from the 6th chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke and is part of a much larger talk by Jesus that has become part of the Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes. When I hear this passage I conjure up images of people living on the street or perhaps standing in line for food, but is this what this verse is all about or is it about something else?
We often think of the poor of those who have less than we do in a material sense of our thinking. Our world today places a lot of emphasis on the accumulation of things. The bigger house, the larger car, more clothes, etc. The world measures success by the amount of stuff that we have and for some, even Christians, we have bought into this. The entirety of the so called “prosperity gospel” is all about the accumulation of things, but is this what Jesus was really making reference too?
I would suggest that the true meaning is unknown but it is also varied in its application. Sure Jesus was concerned about those who were, and are, affected by economics but what about those who are spiritually poor and left behind and marginalized by the church are these not poor as well?
The people who attend our Community Meals at the church come from many walks of life. We have those who come because they don’t have to cook. We have those who come because they live alone and spend most of their day alone and they are looking for company. We have those who come because it is the only meal that they can afford to eat and welcome the take home meals that we provide. And we have those who come to visit with friends, new and old. It is a wonderful group of people who share a meal with us twice a month.
Many of these folks are poor, not materially although some are, but they are poor in spirit and for some they lack meaning in life. They go thought their day just trying to survive for many reasons. I am constantly amazed at the number of folks who have opened up to me to discuss situations at home or at work and how lost they feel in their lives. It would be easy to pity them but pity is not what they are seeking they want someone to listen, just listen and be concerned for them and for their situation. Often times the only advice I have to offer is that I will pray for them and they seem surprised that I would do that. But each time they come back they smile and some tell of how things are getting better. All most people need and want, is a sympathetic ear to just listen to them.
Being a friend to someone and truly listening to them is the best medicine that we can give. As Christians this is our duty and it requires no special training or sanction from the Church all it takes is a willingness to listen, really listen to another person without judgment.
We are all poor in one way or another but each time we welcome another person into our lives we become a little richer. Who will you welcome today?