We walked up three floors of narrow, wooden stairs. I was more fearful of finding them dead than of seeing them alive. My husband knocked and knocked. The shoes were outside the door as is our custom here, but no one answered.
We are Christians. They are Hindu. Their country accepts Islam. Poverty doesn’t discriminate, but we are called to help our brother in need.
The poor are always with us, but that doesn’t mean we should do nothing about it.
How will we help the poor? Many believe that we should not give to beggars on the street because of the mafia. Yet, we who have are responsible in some way to those who do not have. I know the old saying about “teach a man to fish…,” but the bottom line is that there are times when we need to give. There are times when we have to give immediately!
Why are some sleeping in a palace and others on the street? Life is not fair. We know it. When we meet real poverty, our brains try to overcome the dissonance. Somehow we try to convince ourselves that these people deserve to be in the situation. Deep down, we know it can’t be true. Encounters with the poor will make us more stingy or make us more giving. Which will it be?
How can we help those taking refuge? These refugees could not stay in their home country. It is bad enough that they were being hunted, but when the children were also being hunted, they had to leave. To ignore them would be inhumane.
Finally, they answered at the hole in the roof…their floor (since they live on top). We were relieved to find them alive. They were grateful to receive the groceries. It seems that they may get a real place of refuge soon. They already know “how to fish,” but in this situation, they are unable “to fish.” Regardless of our understanding of poverty, we have to give.
How will we respond when the next case comes along?
“Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.” Mother Teresa