We need always to be thinking and writing about poverty, for if we are not among its victims its reality fades from us. We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.
When we put ourselves and our ideas aside, we work with the Creator, for whom no need is too small and for whom love knows no limits. It is the great secret.
We live in a world that is basically a spiritual concentration camp. Unless we put a lot of effort into fighting it, we are pretty much cut off from the things of God and the essential spiritual food we need to survive. We are like the victims of concentration camps who have been surviving on bits and pieces of food and are spiritual walking skeletons.
But the plain truth is this: love is not matter of getting what you want. Quite the contrary. The insistence on always having what you want, on always being satisfied, on always being fulfilled, makes love impossible. To love you have to climb out of the cradle, where everything is ‘getting’ and grow up to the maturity of giving, without concern for getting anything special in return. Love is not a deal, it is a sacrifice. It is not marketing, it is an act of worship.
One of the most vivid pictures of servant leadership we have is the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Our God—our father, teacher, creator, leader—got down on His hands and knees and washed the dirt off of the disciples’ feet. Talk about a job that is not very glamorous. Yet, in this act of service, Jesus provides a beautiful example of what servant leadership looks like. Our God literally and figuratively positioned Himself below those he was serving, showing us that we are called to humbly put aside our pride and our desires and place the needs of others above our own. This is sometimes going to mean doing jobs that to us seem menial and pointless. But, when we become true servants to others, we don’t focus on what we think another person or community needs. We empathetically listen to what others need, and then humbly use our own abilities and skills to work alongside them to meet their goals, whether what they need is a new school to be built or trash to be picked up from their community park.
~ Claire McGrath, “Serving On Our Hands and Knees”, Catholic How
As I walked from the breadline on my way to Mass, a man standing by a deli asked if I could spare some change for his breakfast. I was caught off guard and muttered, “Sorry, sir,” and looked away. … It bothered me that I didn’t react more charitably. If he’d been in the breadline, I would have smiled and said hello. And yet right down the street I found myself distancing myself from his reality. It is easy to compartmentalize life. To say: “This is when I deal with homeless people, this is when I feed the hungry, and then I am done.” But at the heart of the Corporal Works of Mercy is making yourself available to those in need, even when it isn’t convenient, even when you don’t expect it.
Yet, I think we could all be forgiven if we miss the greatness of Jesus’ message; most of the people of his time certainly did. The Israelites didn’t want light: they wanted freedom; they didn’t need a wandering preacher and miracle worker, they wanted a politician who could pull it all together; they didn’t need a man who got rag-tag fishermen to follow him, they wanted a strong leader to throw the Romans out!
But in Jesus, we don’t get the person we want, we get the God we need!
We don’t get the Jesus who approves of everything we do, but the one who calls us to be better than we thought we could be.
We don’t get the Jesus who fights back for what is rightfully his, but the one who turns the other cheek right up to the Cross.
We don’t get the Jesus who turns on the lights so that we have an easy path, but we do get the Jesus who is himself the light!
~ Matt Janeczko, OFM Cap, “The Jesus We Need, Not the One We Want”, Catholic How
Many of us, myself included, seem to think we know what we need but the fact of the matter is, we might not know what we really need, or when something should happen. We must have faith that Jesus has the right answers and the right timing. As scary as it is, we need to trust that our loving God will take care of us, because He knows what’s best for us. As the song lyric goes, some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.