Wednesday, November 18, 2015
I was grateful to take part in an inspired and productive all-day meeting on "Reimagining Care for the Poor" at Ave Maria University with some really terrific out-of-the-box thinkers earlier this month. We came together to discuss--and really reconceive--parish-based solutions for caring for the poor. The day included a luncheon panel for students and the evening before featured Institute for Family Studies scholar David Lapp's keynote address, "A Poor Church for the Poor." David offered a moving reflection on the work he and his wife, Amber, are doing living among the disadvantaged in a poor town in southwest Ohio. He offered nine suggestions for accompanying the poor:
- Be intentional about where you live. Truly encounter the person in need; thank those that serve you, and greet them with a look of love.
- Don’t judge. The real tragedy is not the possibility that the stranger might take advantage of you, but that you would harden your heart in distrust.
- Respect blue-collar culture. The sense of community and the deep valuing of family relationships are things to respect.
- Advocate for the worker. We need to recover from ideologies the unity of Catholic teaching on the dignity of the worker.
- “Waste” time with people. Real conversations happen when you shoot the breeze.
- Honor the suffering. In the words of Gregory Boyle, we should stand in awe of what the poor have to carry, rather than in judgment of the way in which they carry it.
- Look for redemption. No matter how messy a person’s life, there are places where God is at work.
- Discover mutuality at the margins. As Mother Teresa said, we need the poor more than the poor need us.
- Discover your own poverty. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, in a Christmas Eve homily, reminds us that Jesus calls together all who are marginalized; none of us can say that we are not marginalized.