Who are the poor? For some reason this question has been on my mind a lot lately. And I don't even really know why. But the Gospel for the Feast of St. Matthew today I think touched a bit on this question. And you may find yourselves asking why? There is no mention of the poor in the Gospel today. It instead tells the story of Jesus calling Matthew the tax collector to follow after Him. It then tells how many tax collectors and sinners came to sit and eat with Jesus. Now first of all we know that generally speaking tax collectors were pretty wealthy people. They usually took from the people more than what was required so that they could line their own pockets (sounds pretty similar to things going on today.) You see this also in the story of Zacchaeus, another tax collector, who climbed a tree so that he may see Jesus. So again why when talking about the rich do I ask the question, who are the poor? It is simple. Who is more poor? The man who has nothing, knows he has nothing, and goes and asks for help, or the man who has everything he could ever imagine, thinks he is happy, yet has a constant desire for more things and does not realize his own emptiness? I would dare to argue that it is the rich person who doesn't even realize his own emptiness, that is the one who is most poor. Coming from a postulant with the Capuchin Franciscans whose main mission is to care for the poor this must sound pretty crazy. But is it really? Over and over again we constantly see Christ reaching out to those in authority, those with power, and those with many possessions, such as the rich young man who was challenged by Christ to go sell all he had and give the money to the poor and follow after Him. Yet he walked away sad because he had many possessions. Christ rarely called the poor or the sick to conversion because they already had great faith. Hence why they were healed. But he did continuously reach out to the rich and the powerful so that they would have a conversion experience. St. Matthew is one of the few wealthy people in the Gospels that hears His word and responds positively to it. Yes we must always care for the poor. That is the Gospel message. But We must also reach out to those in power, and with wealth and authority as Christ did and pray for a conversion experience. It is so easy in our society, especially for young people, to get too caught up in the things of this world and forget what it is we are really called to do. I think now days so much emphasis is put on school, work, sports, so on and so forth that we lose sight of the one and only thing that really matters. And that is our relationship with God. I do not mean to say that these other things are not important, because they are, but there needs to be a priority and that priority starts with the conversion of our own heart, mind, and soul every day so that we are led deeper into a relationship with Christ. May we be more like St. Matthew who made this a priority in his life, and less like the rich young man, who having everything walked away from Christ sad and unfulfilled because he was afraid to give up what he had for that relationship with Christ.
Peace and all good things,