Looking Down Upon the Poor?

Reflection for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee

This reflection was originally posted in our September 19th newsletter

looking-down-poorReflecting on this weekend’s readings, we can mistakenly hear the gospel simply in its historical context. In that way we can feel derision and contemptuous ridicule for the rich man with his blindness and lack of care for Lazarus who went unnoticed as he laid at the rich man’s door, covered with sores. Or we can acknowledge that our blindness and lack of compassion continues to affect the lives of the poor in our neighborhoods, in our cities and in our world today. Our gospel today is not simply about generosity or charity it is deeply rooted in a call for our conversion, attentiveness and transformation.

The youthful Francis of Assisi could easily be cast in the role of the rich man with his expensive garments and rich linens. As the son of a rich cloth merchant he wanted for nothing. One day while assisting in his father’s shop and attending to wealthy customers, a poor man came in begging for alms. Francis, impatient with the man and desirous to complete his sale, caustically turned the man out. Later, feeling remorse for his words and actions Francis ran through the streets seeking out the man and upon finding him filled his hands with coins. Another event in Francis’ early conversion took place sometime later while he was making a pilgrimage to Rome. Overwhelmed by the vast crowds of people, especially those who were poor, crippled and destitute, he emptied the money from his purse at the tomb of St. Peter. He then went back out to the church steps and in the midst a crowd of beggars exchanged his clothes with one of the poorest. Dressed in the beggar’s rags, he sat on the church steps with hands outstretched begging for alms. In these events one can see the movements of grace in the life of Francis of Assisi. He moved from charity to a place of oneness with those in need. He moved from seeing himself as better or over others, giving from his excess to embracing those in need as sister and brother. This was the process of conversion which transformed Francis inwardly and outwardly into the presence of the crucified Christ, whom he loved.

We, who profess Christ crucified, must see the suffering and crucified in the poor and the homeless who often go unnoticed on our streets. We cannot be complacent and comfortable while others go impoverished. Let us not look down or away but gaze deeply in their eyes to see the presence of Christ!

Sr. Margaret Magee
FAN Board President

Published in: on September 20, 2016 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  

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