Where Is the Church During These Difficult Times?
The Catholic Church will always help the poor out of love for Jesus.
Vatican charities helped in assisting 1,500,000 children and providing some measure of food and clothing to 7,000,000 needy Italians. This is an old data from an article by Time Magazine in 1965. We do not know if this number has increased or decreased but this is a strong proof that the Church for a very long time has been always loyal to her mission, a mission she received from her founder and head, Jesus Christ.
The truth is that these charity works are not only being done in the Vatican but also in each of the local Catholic churches. In each charity act, the Church recalls the words of our Lord in the Gospel when he repeatedly refers himself as the poor. “I was hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, imprisoned…..” (Matthew 25:31-46) Therefore, Catholics believe that when we help the poor we are serving Christ. This is why since the apostolic times the first Christian community, besides spreading the gospel as their main mission, also focused on helping the poor including collection of alms (Acts 24:17) to assist the poor of Jerusalem (Roman 15:25-27, 1 Cor 16:1-4, 2 Cor 8:-9).
When we think of Christ in the poor, we do not only think of the material needs but also spiritual, intellectual, etc. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. the corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead (Hebrew 13:3). Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:
He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise (Tobit 4:5-11; Sirach 17:22; Matthew 6:2-4). But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you (Luke 3:11). If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit (Luke 11:41)?
Addressing these many areas of necessity of the poor is a task seriously taken by the Church. It has and will always be her mission along with evangelization. This is the reason why parishes have all kinds of ministries for the poor which we, individually, has to take part in any way we can. It is obvious that many of us are doing our part because it is a common knowledge that the Catholic Church, through her numerous charitable organizations, is the largest NGO that provides education and medical services in the world.
In spite of this, there are still many who are living in terrible situations. 10% of the world population are extremely poor they cannot even buy their own basic needs. By this reason, the Catholic Church needs our constant assistance. Since we cannot do much because of our family commitments, we are encouraged to help the Church and those who are generously working for the poor full time. If we have exhausted our monthly contribution of money, skills, and time, then we can try to friendly remind others of their responsibility as Catholics to support the Church. For non-Catholics, we can encourage them to help charities of their choice if they are not comfortable giving to a Catholic organization. After all, we are all brothers in the eyes of God.
It is not very charitable for us Catholics to question if the Church is doing something for the poor especially if we have not contributed enough! She was, she is, and she will always be helping the poor because of the divine mandate of love given to her by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35). Non-Catholics should stop criticizing the Catholic Church by saying she has not done enough. Haters and persecutors of the Catholic Church persecutes Christ who founded the Church: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 22:7) It is time for the new Sauls of our times to become Pauls and serve Christ instead of persecuting him.
Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!