We’ll always have the poor

We’ll always have the poor

CHRIST himself said so. “You always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.” (Mt 26,11) In other words, we will always have the poor because in the end we all are the poor. We are all in need of God. That’s what makes us all poor and hopefully struggling to attend to that most important need.

That said, we cannot deny the obvious fact that according to some human standards and criteria, we have some people who are considered poor and others considered rich. This distinction should not be lost in our mind and should trigger in us the desire to do what is appropriate.

Thus, we have to understand very well the true meaning of the slogan often mouthed by many people today that we should give “preferential option to the poor.” This policy or pastoral thrust which, doubtless, is very sublime, should not deteriorate into some unnecessary and dangerous social division and conflict among ourselves.

Despite our differences, we have to care for one another. We should be responsible for one another. We have to give what everyone needs out of justice and charity, without getting lost in the priorities proper to us. That’s because, in the end, we are all brothers and sisters, all children of God!

Our differences should rather trigger the dynamics of greater love and unity, not of division. They should invite and encourage us to be more understanding and compassionate with one another the way Christ was understanding and compassionate with everyone. Our common, universal and absolute need is God, and we just have to learn how to give or show God to one another. All our other needs—material, economic, health, etc.—are secondary to this and should serve as occasions and instruments to meet our need for God.

We have to be very wary of certain ideologies that water down our need for God, or at least distort it, by getting entangled in their priorities, giving exaggerated attention to the material aspects of our life at the expense of our spiritual and supernatural goals.

The material and economic aspects are definitely important, but it would be wrong to pursue them as the ultimate need for man. Detached from its objective relation to God, the Creator, these aspects have no other way but to get into trouble. Not that by making God the ultimate need, there will be less concern for the material, economic and other human needs we have. Quite the contrary. Our concern for them would in fact be enhanced.

We have to be wary of certain currents of thought that, no matter how subtly done, tend to put into conflict our material and natural needs with our spiritual and supernatural needs. We somehow should follow the example of Mary, that woman who brought the precious ointment to Christ, in the sense of givingChrist the best that we have, whether material, moral or spiritual.

That would show how much we love him. And by loving him, we would know how to love the others properly, a love that can go all the way, without being afraid of any sacrifices involved.