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Honing our concern for the poor

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That parable of the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus, (cfr. Lk 16,19-31) which is the subject of the gospel of the Mass for Thursday of the 2nd Week of Lent, strongly reminds us of our duty to always take care of those who are in need of anything, not only material necessities but also and especially, moral and spiritual ones.

Said in another way, it reminds us of the danger, so common among ourselves, to be so trapped in our own affairs, in our own status or in our own world, that we become insensitive to the needs of others.

While it’s true that we have to take care of our own selves, it’s never an excuse for not attending to the needs of others. In fact, we need to realize that our true self-care can only take place when we take care of our duties, first to God, and then to others. Thus, if we truly want to take care of ourselves, we have to take care of our duties to God first, and then our duties to the others.

Indeed, we need to make some special effort to assume this kind of mindset since it cannot be denied that given our human condition, weakened and wounded as it is by all kinds of limitations, temptations and sins, the usual thing to happen is for us to be self-centered and self-indulgent.

We should see to it that our thoughts and intentions always revolve around God and the others. The moment we notice that they are revolving around ourselves, we should try our best to correct ourselves. We need to convince ourselves that by so doing, we are actually gaining in our human dignity, rather than undermining or losing it.

Thus, constant practice in this direction is a must, given the fact that everything around us sort of pressure us to be self-centered. This indeed will require of us a life-long struggle.

Definitely, some sacrifice in one form or another would be unavoidable. And we should not be surprised by that. On the contrary, we have to understand that for us to be truly human and a child of God as we should be, we need to do some sacrifice. Again, given our wounded human condition in this world, we cannot help but have to make sacrifices to pursue and keep our proper human and Christian dignity.

So, everyday we should be aware that we are making some sacrifices which is always possible, because even in our worst condition, as when we are sick or isolated for one reason or another, we can always make the sacrifice of thinking and offering prayers for the others instead of just thinking of ourselves. Our sacrifice can start in our thoughts and intentions.

We also need to realize that while we should try our best to help others in their needs, we have to give priority to those whose needs are truly grave, and that is always in the area of their spiritual and moral life. They may be rich economically, but if they are  truly wanting of spiritual and moral health, they deserve our utmost attention and care.

This would indeed require of us a certain toughness that would enable us not to be scandalized by whatever sinful things they commit and to be somehow dirtied due to our accompaniment with them. But we should just persist until we manage to lead them back to God and recover their proper human and Christian dignity.*

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