A woman went to Mass every day. One day she was late and rushed to Mass. As she rushed she saw a person in pain lying on the ground, she looked but kept rushing to church.
She also saw a beggar obviously very hungry, and also ignored them.
As she approached the church, the door was locked, and a sign said , “I am out there!”
I have been struck recently how a significant number of people are suffering hardship as a result of the Coronavirus.
The person who could no longer keep his lodgings because of reduced hours of work, and now is sleeping in someone’s lounge.
The father of a family who does not know how to feed his children because he fell through the gaps and cannot find work.
Then there are the number of people suffering from various types of mental illness, wandering the streets with nowhere to go, who I meet most days, and sleeping rough.
Everyday I see people sleeping rough, and behind each one is a story, a human story.
The poor are many and are poor for various reasons.
We can give a meal to a hungry person, and that is very necessary and good. It is also important to keep finding long-term solutions.
Despite the challenges we need to keep working together to find effective short- and long-term solutions.
We can find these challenges overwhelming and maybe even disempowering.
In the Gospel, especially in Mark, Jesus, the human Jesus, feels very strongly as he faces evil. He even gets angry. He faces challenges and disappointments. In all this He keeps trusting in ‘Abba’ God His Father even though, at times, he finds it hard to do so.
In so many ways we can all contribute to helping the ‘poor’.
We can all give respect by the way we treat people, even with a simple greeting.
We can avoid the temptation to judge in a simplistic way, and not to stereotype.
Each face we look at is a person created in the image of God.
We can see each encounter as an invitation to move out of self-preoccupation and reach out to others.
Those who can, to support agencies financially who are reaching out to those in need, to do so generously.
Those in a position to do so to bring people together, to work together, to help others.
So often so many groups and agencies trying to work in helping others, do not speak to each other and cooperate.
We find ourselves, when we give ourselves.
Prayer centres us and keeps us in touch with God’s given energy and grace within.
Prayer, if healthy prayers, also lead us to reach out to others.
Pope Francis says, ‘prayer to God and solidarity with the poor and suffering are inseparable’. In healthy worship it is necessary to recognise that all persons, even the most destitute and despised, carry the image of God impressed on themselves, otherwise it is empty worship.
As we overcome the temptation of selfishness and self-preoccupation, we find ourselves and meet God. Since God is with us, we don’t have to give in to the temptation of being overwhelmed, and thus end up doing nothing.