When I first had my conversion, I tried so hard to imitate Jesus. I read about the things He did, the schedules He kept, the things He said and the people He associated with. I really tried to integrate these things into my life. This led me to try and begin a relationship with the materially poor whom I had come in contact with. I am ashamed to say that this relationship has been lacking for the past few years.
When I would meet someone in need, I wouldn’t just try and meet their needs, but I would try to meet them personally and form some sort of a relationship with them. This is what Christ did and this is what the early apostles did as well. I met some amazing people and had incredible conversations. Those “Poor” people taught me a lot about the spiritual life.
The poor can teach us so much about living a Radical Catholic Life. One of the key lessons we learn from the needy is to be needy. In this day and age, it is easy for us to have an attitude of prideful independence. We don’t acknowledge our need for anything. Acknowledging need is an integral part of the spiritual life. We need to become beggars at the feet of Jesus. Who better to teach us about need than the truly needy.
Another lesson I learned from the “poor” is that there are many ways to be poor. One of the big questions that everyone asks when giving alms is “What if they use the money for drugs or alcohol?” There are many different opinions about this, but I always tend to trust people. When you try to enter into a relationship with someone and not just meet his or her need then you begin to realize there are many different kinds of poverty. If a person is lying about being in need then that person is surely impoverished in his spirit. The person who lies is in need of the truth. The person who begs for money because he is addicted to drugs is in need of liberation. We begin to learn that all people are in some way “poor” or “needy”.
Jesus spent His time here on earth with the Poor and Needy. If you want to learn about living a Radical Catholic life try to imitate Christ and enter into relationship with the poor of your city. We can look to the model radical Catholic St. Francis who not only associated with the “Poor” of every kind but also made himself to be poor and needy before God and men.
Remember, blessed are the poor…
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 Theresa of Calcutta
What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. St. Augustine
But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind… Luke 14:13
Dave VanVickle is a Catholic speaker and writer focusing on the Universal Call to Holiness and Authentic Catholic Spirituality. He is currently employed as the Director of Evangelization for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Wexford, PA.