We have heard a lot of talk in recent years and even recent decades of the Church being the Church of the Poor. It seems to me that we still have a long way to go before we can claim to be faithful to such a designation. It is very easy to work out the theory and write about the nature of the Church of the Poor, however, it seems to be a totally different thing to actually live it in real life!
I am not seeking to point the finger at anyone here but to set out the challenge that faces us in the third millennium. The great disparity of wealth between the western nations and the rest of the world would seem to me to be a flashpoint that could trigger just about anything from grumbling words to full-scale war. Even within the Church there is a danger that a division between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ will develop. Such a division is clearly contrary to the Gospel and just a clearly condemned by Paul in his Letter to the Corinthians (1Cor 11:17ff).
In a true Church of the Poor both rich and poor people will worship together and have EXACTLY the same access to salvation and the Sacraments and all else that the Church offers its members. In the Church of the Poor no one will be concerned about the wealth of those around them; living as brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God is all that will matter to us all! In the Church of the Poor the single overriding concern will be the dignity of the human person and everything will be done to respect and promote this in the context of the Church’s position in society.
It is unacceptable in the sight of God and thus should be unacceptable to the Church that there are people living their lives without the benefit of the Sacraments because they do not have the money to pay for them or do not feel as though the Church will receive their request for them favorably because they may not be rich enough to pay what they know the rich would pay. Yes, the Church needs to be supported by its members but there should never be a situation where a member of the Church feels that they cannot avail themselves of the services of the Church because they are poor. If this is the case then the Church fails in its duty to be a Church of the Poor!
What am I doing to promote the Church’s image as a Church of the Poor? How often do I share my goods with those who have less than me?
Lord Jesus, you often ate with the poor and those who had been rejected by the mainstream society. You never placed greater value on one life over another. Help me to treat all people with the same respect that they deserve as one of your children.