My confessor gave a wonderful Mass at St Joseph’s yesterday evening for the celebration of our Patron Day, but I couldn’t help but feel a stab of black humour listening to both his homily, and the speech later given by our local mayor, at their remarks that “there are no poor here” (paraphrased) and “everyone here has enough to eat” and “our charity therefore needs to be focused on people elsewhere” ; paraphrased : “we here live in wealth and happiness, so we needn’t give our charity to any among us, but only to those living afar” — not only is this attitude perfectly blind to the hardships and poverty existing here and under people’s very noses (and NO, NOT “everyone” here has “enough” to eat), but it’s a complete betrayal of the very principles of Christian Charity, as our Blessed Pope John Paul II once explained them, in one of his more important homilies (given before I was even a Catholic) — Christian Charity ALWAYS starts with those who are closest and dearest to us, and then those living around us, those we can see, and touch, and speak to.
Pope John Paul II rightly reminded us that if we don’t care for and pay attention to the poverty and the suffering that we can see on our doorsteps, then whatever donations and aid that we may provide for those living far away, no matter how worthy our efforts may be, are not Charity in the Catholic Christian sense, because those who we are being asked to help in our own flesh, by our own presence, through the Spirit within ourselves, will have been ignored in favour of some distant strangers.
Our Blessed Pope also pointed out that this sort of help from afar reduces charity to a figure on a cheque or on some banknotes and coins (though I’m paraphrasing here), which is about as far away from true Charity that you can get.
True Charity is to be a Christian presence in the flesh amidst the poor and suffering ; True Charity is to be WITH the poor and suffering in our own persons, to be with them, to accept them into our own lives, our own hearts, into True Holy Communion with our very souls and with their own souls, in the One True Church of our Risen Christ.
Not this bourgeois masquerade posing in its place.