Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons…
~ Pope Francis, Easter Urbi et Orbi blessing
In his first Urbi et Orbi (to the City and the World) blessing, Pope Francis hit a topic that is worthy of a blog post. Why would the Pope especially want to go where the suffering is the greatest?
We are called to care for “the least of these” but what is the balance between caring for those in the inner city, the hospitals, and the prisons as well as those in a gated community?
I have several people in my parish that live in gated communities. Our monthly collection is more than the annual collection of many parishes within 50 miles of us. Our pastor tells stories of after giving a pulpit plea for a cause, someone will hand him a check for at least half of what he asked for. But with all their money and their stuff, many of my fellow parishioners live in self-constructed prisons and with souls in need of a hospitalization.
One night I heard a man pouring out his heart. Hearing his story changed the way I thought of people with huge sums of money.
He told that he had everything he always wanted: a house on the lake, a Corvette in the garage, and a net worth of seven-figures but his wife is going to leave him and his children won’t talk to him. He is a good man. He contributes time, talent and treasure to the Church, and he wants to do the right things. Though he had gained the world and was giving of what he had, he had done little for his soul. He knew of Jesus but he was not a friend of Jesus.
I know of many who focus on social justice issues. They would pay just enough attention to my friend to get his money so they can fund their ministry for the physical needs of the poor. They see only the suffering of body and not the soul.
Many involved with social justice see those with money and possessions as the rich man and those without such things as Lazarus in the parable Jesus told. While that may be the exception, the wealthy I know would never treat Lazarus as the story tells. Their biggest sin their not their lack of concern for those in need, it”s that they don’t care for their own souls enough to call Jesus their friend.
What I Take From Pope Francis
From the Scriptures, it seems to me that no matter what we do, we will always have the poor so we can be reminded to care for each other. It also seems that God gave us Pope Francis for such a time as this to remind those of us with the ability to care for those without. Pope Francis is also calling us to making Jesus your friend as described at the Last supper. The greatest suffering in this world is not from an empty stomach, it is from a lack of hope. Friendship with Christ Jesus can bring that hope.
Pope Francis is reminding us to visit the prisons: those built by the state to protect us from criminals and those built around souls to keep Jesus out.
Make one of your friends a friend of Jesus.