I'm sure you've often heard the complaint that the Church doesn't do enough to help the poor, despite the fact that the Catholic Church provides more funds and services for the poor than any other organization in the world. To be sure, there is always more that can be done even as we know that, as the Lord Jesus says, "The poor you will always have with you" (Matthew 26:11).
We often forget that the poor will always be with us so that can always serve Christ in them. Pope Benedict XVI highlighted this this morning when he tweeted, "If we have love for our neighbor, we will find the face of Christ in the poor, the weak, the sick and the suffering."
A recent report indicates that 1 in 3 Illinoisans lives in - or near - poverty. This news is staggering and should spur each of us to act in love for the good and betterment of the poor. Such activity can be done in any number of ways, but the most important is individual contact.
One of my good friends volunteers regularly at a food pantry in Quincy. Just the other day she shared that several families would not take items that required a microwave because they do not have one and cannot afford a microwave. My friend then asked her friends on Facebook if they had a spare microwave or crock pot that could be given to these families in need. If we get the items to her, she will get them to the families.
Because I was touched by her desire to help by reaching out to us for help, I shared her story and received today a crock pot from a friend in California. I have a gift card that I will use toward the purchase of a microwave later this week. Other items have also been donated.
This is how the Church principally cares for the poor, person to person. You and I are called to care for the poor, to do what we can when we can to help.
The need that my friend saw is not a difficult one to meet, but she can't meet it alone; together, though, we can.