Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

2/8/2014 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The same Jesus who promised to be with us always also told us that the poor would be with us always. They are one and the same - in a way that is revealed with the eyes of living faith

That image, that the poor are "the flesh of Christ" never left my heart. Every time I call it back to my mind it pierces my heart again. Pope Francis sounds like his namesake, the little poor man of Assisi named Francis. There is a saying attributed to St Francis of Assisi.  Whether he actually said it or not matters little. "I preach the Gospel at all times and sometimes I use words." St. Francis became a word from the Lord for others through the witness of his life.  He lived in a manner that drew others to follow the pattern of Gospel simplicity. I suggest that his namesake, the 265th successor of Peter, also named Francis, is following in his footsteps.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/8/2014 (6 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: poor, poverty, simplicity, social justice, preferential option, preferential love, Matthew 25, evangelical counsels, Dorothy Day, Chiara Lubich, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - The older I get the simpler my life becomes.  I think it is supposed to be that way. Since the Lord surprised the world by finding this "pope from the end of the world" to call the church to evangelical simplicity, I have been invited by the Holy Spirit to strip down even more.

I remember the announcement, after the white-smoke signaled that the Cardinal electors had chosen a successor to Benedict XVI. I was surprised that it was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio.  As soon as his selection was revealed to him, Cardinal Giovanni Battista's asked him, "What name would you like to be known by?" He replied "I shall be called Francis.

Pope Francis - End world hunger through 'PRAYER & ACTION'


Then, he stepped out to and told the whole world, "You know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get him. But here we are." It was so simple. This Francis, like his namesake Francis of Assisi,  is Il Poverello, a little poor man. He calls us all to love the poor as we love Jesus Himself. He calls us to recognize all of the faces of the poor.

During Morning Prayer today I remembered when he visited Centro Astalli in Rome served by the Jesuit Refugee Service. After greeting those gathered for lunch he moved to the chapel for private prayer. He thanked those who serve Christ in the poor at the nearby Church of Jesus, where Fr. Pedro Arrupe, the founder of the Jesuit Refugee Service, is buried. He listened to the stories of two of the refugees, a Sudanese man and a Syrian woman. He asked whether empty convents and religious houses should be used to house the poor rather than seen as potential money sources for the Church. That question grabbed headlines and rattled comfort zones. That seems to be a part of his ministry.

He spoke of authentic Christian charity: It is not enough to offer a sandwich if this is not accompanied by the possibility of learning to stand on one's own two feet. Charity that leaves the poor in the same situation as before is not adequate. True mercy - that which God gives and teaches us - asks for justice, asks that the poor find the way out of their poverty. It asks us - the Church, the city of Rome, the institutions - it demands that no-one should be in need of a meal, of a temporary shelter, a legal assistance service, to enable the recognition of his or her right to live and to work, to be recognized fully as a person. To serve and to accompany both mean to defend, they mean to place oneself on the side of the weakest. How often are we unable or unwilling to echo the voices of those who have suffered and suffer, to those who have seen their rights trampled, who have experienced so much violence that it has even suffocated their desire for justice? The Lord calls us all to live with more courage and generosity
 
He called us all to welcome the poor in communities, in houses, in empty convents. Empty convents are not to be sold to be transformed into hotels to make money for the Church. The empty convents are not ours; they are for the flesh of Christ, for the refugees. This certainly isn't simple, and requires criteria, responsibility, and also courage. We do much, but we are perhaps called to do more, welcoming and sharing decisively that which Providence has given us to serve".

That image, that the poor are "the flesh of Christ" never left my heart. Every time I call it back to my mind it pierces my heart again. Pope Francis sounds like his namesake, the little poor man of Assisi named Francis. There is a saying attributed to St Francis of Assisi.  Whether he actually said it or not matters little. "I preach the Gospel at all times and sometimes I use words." St. Francis became a word from the Lord for others through the witness of his life.  He lived in a manner that drew others to follow the pattern of Gospel simplicity. I suggest that his namesake, the 265th successor of Peter, also named Francis, is following in his footsteps.

When I read the 25th chapter of Matthews Gospel I am drawn to my knees by these words of Jesus, I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you gave me clothing; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison, and you visited me." (Matt. 25: 31-46) I understand the question posed by his stunned disciples, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs. (Matthew 25.35-36) It was an extraordinary statement! However, as I have aged I have come to see there are so many faces of poverty. I am finally beginning to learn to recognize the face of Jesus revealed in them all. Francis is becoming my teacher.

The same Jesus who promised to be with us always also told us that the poor would be with us always. They are one and the same - in a way that is revealed with the eyes of living faith. "The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me" (Jesus, Matthew 26:11) "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Jesus, Matthew 28:20) The face of Jesus is found in the face of the poor, for those with eyes to see. The word of Jesus is spoken through the poor, for those who cultivate the ears to hear Him. The cry of Jesus is heard in the cry of the poor, at least for those who will stop to listen. That is the deeper meaning behind this sobering scene:

"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' "Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

Those who love the poor - like Jesus loved the poor- are an instruction manual for the rest of us. They are a sign of the kingdom, making it present in their wake. We have such a man in this Pope named Francis. He also recognizes that poverty is more than a lack of material goods. It knows many faces -and the face of Christ is revealed in them all.

Dorothy Day, a heroic witness and prophetic voice of the 20th century, grasped this mystery and let it grasp her. That is why she is moving forward in the cause for canonization. She lived in the aftermath of the industrial age where human persons were too often treated as products to be used. Though some get stuck in her circuitous and intriguing journey into the fullness of the truth as found in the Catholic Church, she gave herself away, living with and loving the poor, because she truly understood and embraced her own poverty with brutal honesty. That is the stuff out of which holiness is fashioned.

So too did her brother in that work of authentic solidarity and charity, Peter Maurin. He once wrote with simplicity and searing honesty: "We cannot imitate the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary by trying to get all we can. We can only imitate the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary by trying to give all we can".

Another great Christian woman of the same age, Chiara Lubich, the founder of the ecclesial movement Focolare, expressed the heart of this call to love in deed and truth:Yes, love makes us be. We exist because we love. If we don't love, and every time we don't love, we are not, we do not exist ("Even what he has will be taken away"). There's nothing left to do but to love, without holding back. Only in this way will God give himself to us and with him will come the fullness of his gifts.

Let us give concretely to those around us, knowing that by giving to them we are giving to God. Let's give always; let's give a smile, let's offer understanding, and forgiveness. Let's listen, let's share our knowledge, our availability; let's give our time, our talents, our ideas, our work; let's give our experience, our skills; let's share our goods with others so that we don't accumulate things and everything circulates. Our giving opens the hands of God and He, in his providence, fills us with such an abundance that we can give again, and give more, and then receive again, and in this way we can meet the immense needs of many.


Pope Francis - End world hunger through 'PRAYER & ACTION'


The beloved disciple John wrote as an old man in his letters to the early churches: We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. (I John 3: 14-18)

I knew a woman in Virginia Beach who challenged me to probe deeply to find the core of this truth. She was not an easy person to be around. Prophets rarely are. She went home to the Lord years ago. She once wrote to me:  In the end, there are two kinds of poor people: those who already know they are poor and those who don't know yet. Here is the crisis: If the latter don't discover this before they leave this planet, they are doomed to be poor forever. What can those of us who already know we are poor do for those who don't know yet? Love them.

Let us learn to love the poor. As Pope Francis reminds us, the poor are the flesh of Christ.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More U.S.

Caught in the act! This brutal video shows a CHP officer beating a woman on the side of the freeway Watch

Image of 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock is suing the California Highway Patrol after she was brutally assaulted by a patrolman on July 1.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A viral video has landed a California Highway Patrol officer in huge trouble after it was posted on YouTube. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The California Highway Patrol has announced that it has suspended officer Daniel Andrew after a video was posted online that ... continue reading


Prophetic, Pro-Life Pope Reminds Us Procured Abortion Cut from Same Evil Root as Human Trafficking Watch

Image of On Saturday, August 16, 2014, during the apostolic visit to Korea, Pope Francis made a loud statement. However, he did not use words. He did not have to. His prophetic action brought to mind a saying attributed to his namesake, Francis of Asisi - I preach the Gospel at all times, but sometimes I use words.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When Francis began his service from the chair of Peter, much hoopla filled the media about some alleged softening in the opposition of the Catholic Church to what are dismissively referred to as complicated "moral issues" such as abortion. Sadly, even some in the ... continue reading


Supreme Court Stays Redefinition of Marriage in Virginia Watch

Image of The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a U.S. Circuit court ruling, redefining the institution of marriage.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to delay the implementation of an appeals court ruling which struck down the expressed will of the voters of the State of Virginia that marriage is capable only between one man and one woman. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ... continue reading


GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER? U.S. policemen cleared at least 400 TIMES annually for justified homicide Watch

Image of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in addition to more than 40 FBI agents will meet in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of teenager Michael Brown, an unarmed robbery suspect shot six times by a police officer.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Law enforcement agents, be they police or sheriff's deputies, are frequently called upon to defend civilians. In their line of duty, policemen are required to make hair-trigger decisions in order to protect the lives of the innocent. This at times requires ... continue reading


Is the First Amendment dead? Police in Ferguson threaten to kill reporters Watch

Image of The unidentified officer will be found and it is unclear if he will face discipline for threatening to kill journalists.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Overnight, a police officer in Ferguson, MO threatened to kill a member of the press and was recorded doing so. Now a campaign has started online to identify the officer and remove him from the front lines in Ferguson before he really does act out on his threat. ... continue reading


Pope may visit New York City in 2015 Watch

Image of Pope Francis also said there was a possibility he would add Mexico to his travel plans, specifically to visit the Madonna of Guadalupe shrine Mexico City,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Pope Francis has confirmed that he is planning to come to the U.S. next year, a spokesman says that the pontiff may visit New York City. Pope Francis hopes to address Congress and the United Nations, as well as attend a meeting in Philadelphia. A surprise ... continue reading


On the Memorial of St. Bernard: Lord, Send Us Monks for This New Missionary Age! Watch

Image of Bernard, Monk, Abbot, Doctor of the Church, and Model of the Christian life and vocation. - Monasteries are a seedbed of the great renewals of the Catholic Church. Monks are prophetic seeds of the kingdom who always seem to be around right when we need them the most. We need Monks for the authentic renewal of the Church in this hour. Lord, send your Holy Spirit, send us monks for the renewal of your Church and the work of this new missionary age.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Even though he was regularly summoned to leave the monastery by the needs of Church and State, Bernard was above all a monk, a man of deep prayer, communion and contemplation. It was that sincere devotion which made it possible for him to have wisdom to offer the ... continue reading


So this is where school money goes?! Watch

Image of A new study shows that massive amounts of funding go to non-teacher staff in schools, which has little impact on education quality.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Non-teacher employees make up 50% of public school employees, a number which has grown 130% since 1970, a new study claims. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found ... continue reading


Romney weighs in: Obama is doing 'a good deal worse than even I expected' Watch

Image of Mitt Romney called President Obama out over numerous failures in the six years he has been in office during a West Virginia political rally.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney made quite a scene as he attended a West Virginia rally for three Republican Congressional candidates who are up for election in November. Crowds cheered "Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!" as he spoke. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Money is NOT the Root of Evil. Learning to Live Evangelical Simplicity in an Age of Idolatry Watch

Image of Simplicity is not about the quantity of the goods of the earth we possess. It is about our relationship to them. Jesus said - Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21).

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Learning to live in evangelical Simplicity strips away what impedes love. In finding our proper relationship to the goods of the earth- not rejecting them, craving them, or turning them into an idol- we can learn true freedom. Our eyes are opened and everything begins ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 37:1-14
1 The hand of Yahweh was on me; he carried me away by ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
2 So let them say whom Yahweh redeemed, whom he ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Andrew the Scot
August 22: Archdeacon and companion of St. Donatus. Andrew and his sister, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter