This week marks two years since I last travelled to Piura, Peru. Having been there several time, and made close friends with many of the staff at Santisimo Sacramento parish, it makes me sad to remember the intense poverty that is rampant in that part of the world.
I am reminded once again when I see pictures being sent back from our friends who are there these next few weeks of what Pope Benedict said concerning charitable giving to such poverty stricken people when he was still a Cardinal in “God and the World”:
You must give more than this. You must come yourselves; you must give of yourselves; and you must help, so that the material gifts you bring are used appropriately, so that they are not just something you pull out of a bag in order to buy your way out of the difficulty we represent, the problem we are for you.
For that is what the poor are to the world, a problem. A problem for us to feed, a problem for us to care for, a problem for us to clothe and to teach, a problem for us to even think about. For doing so would force us out of the luxuries of our daily thinking, which all too often is of mere “things”, rather than people and ultimately God.
There are two things in my life which have drastically altered how I see the world. Piura, Peru was the first. Having children was the second. When you truly value any human life as you value your own child’s…..it makes it easier to empathize with and recognize the intense loss, the intense suffering, the intense shame that comes about in those people who have not the means to help their own children, to care for their own parents, to feed their own families.
We cannot fathom what they wake up to each day, for we have more than they can even imagine. And accordingly we don’t understand how to live on faith, because we have no need of it. But faith does exist. It exists for the elderly man who’s family has all passed and has no way to feed himself….in a city with 70% unemployment among those healthy enough to work, much less those in his position. It exists for the young wife with 3 children whose husband cannot find work, even when travelling dozens upon dozens of miles away from home on foot to seek it. It exists when God sends people like you and I to do the work that they cannot, to be the manna come down from Heaven which truly feeds their children. I’ve seen it….it does exist.