“The mystery of the poor is this: That they are Jesus, and what you do for them you do for Him. It is the only way we have of knowing and believing in our love. The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge of and belief in love.” —The Mystery of the Poor Dorothy Day
There is a dangerous myth popular in the 21st century America. That is that poverty is the result of a lack of will and a lack of working. We often perceive poverty as a lack of ambition, the product of laziness that borders on irresponsibility. People are poor because they choose to be and because they believe it is easier to work the system, letting others do the work and provide for them.
That attitude simply fuels the anger felt by taxpayers already chafing under the burden of our government’s out of control spending and the greed of some special interests. Such anger causes us to despise those who rob us of our own personal resources. The poor suffer from this attitude, being lumped into the same category as companies driven excessively by the pursuit of profit, or politicians who believe that they can tax and maneuver to protect their specific constituencies at the expense of other areas of the nation.
Jesus always looked with a compassionate heart upon the poor. He challenged his followers to move beyond the easy alms giving of religious duty to enter into the lives of the poor. He absolutely identified with Matthew 25 to essential connection between loving God and serving the poor. “If you have done it unto the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.”