Statistics are impersonal, but the statistic that more than 15% of Americans are living in poverty means that 46 million people don’t have the basic necessities of life.
There are many varied causes of poverty, but what is important is the toll it takes on our brothers and sisters. It means parents who cannot find a decent job; feed their family, pay the bills, get adequate health care and live in hunger and fear.
This is not just a human tragedy. It is a moral and spiritual problem. In Matthew’s Gospel (25:42-43) Jesus asks where were you when the least of my brothers and sisters were hungry or thirsty, naked or homeless, sick or in prison?
As followers of Jesus we cannot be indifferent to the suffering of our brothers and sisters. It is not enough to speak words of encouragement we must act to address their suffering (James 2:15-17).
First, there is direct assistance, personal or through Catholic Charities or other agencies. And, second there is individual initiative to address the fundamental and systemic elements that cause or exacerbate the poverty of individuals, families and children.
In a recent letter to bishops, Archbishop Timothy Dolan closed with these words:
“In these tough economic times, we turn to the God who loves us. We pray for those who need work. We lift up the poor and the suffering. We ask God’s guidance for our nation. This is not a time to give in to discouragement. It is a time for faith and hope. Faith offers us moral principles to guide us in the days ahead. Christian hope gives us strength. Christ’s love calls us to care for those left behind in this broken society.”
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish