In honor of the Feast of the Exultation of the Life Giving Cross
My first reaction upon meeting someone who is homeless or in dire financial straights runs along two different avenues. In my experience, there is a way to be poor and suffer homelessness with a profound dignity and there is also poverty which draws out the meanness in man, makes him petty and fills him with despair In the first case, I am humbled and encouraged by the sight of hope and virtue in the midst of suffering. The idea of redemptive suffering is central to the Faith, and for those who meet their homelessness and trials with dignity and virtue, their salvation is being worked out here on this earth. Their purgatory is a twice blessed one because it was done in out midst, so that we might witness the supreme joy of purification.
In the latter case, however, there is a constant, unchanging question that springs to my lips every time I encounter deprivation and despair . Like Dimitri in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, I ask the question “why?” Why is there despair, why is there poverty? Why do people cry and weep, where is their food? How can one have more than another, when that other lies starving? And I want to do something, so that there will be no more children crying, no more tears from anyone from now on, and it must be done immediately, without delay!
Jesus said in Mark 12:17 “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick...” In His earthly ministry he sought out the marginalized with a passion and brought the brightness of His Self into their lives. If we are to be Christians, little Christs, we must also bring His Divine Self into the hearts and lives of those we encounter by our actions and words. The poor are ever close to Christ because they share in His suffering, and if we would share in His Glory we must also share His Cross. Therefore, let us do as Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta and her Missionaries of Charity, who lived in full communion with those to whom they ministered, going out in love with Karamzovian unrestraint.