Out of Sight

In places like Haiti
and the many other
impoverished nations
where I have filmed,
such as Uganda and Kenya,
the poverty is stunningly clear
and all around you.
It hits you in the face every day.

Here at home in America,
the poverty is more hidden,
more out of sight.
The drastic unequal distribution of wealth
in the Unites States has reaped
consequences that place an added
grim burden on the poor,
which you can see if you look closely:
failed urban schools, crumbling infrastructure,
astronomical rates of incarceration among
minorities and the poor,
unfavorable health outcomes
for the insured and uninsured alike, and
constant economic insecurity for most of us
thanks to failing banks and rising unemployment.

The poverty-induced human destruction
in so much of Africa and Haiti
continues amid a sea
of graft and corruption.
The greed factor dominates
because trust in
God’s providential abundance
is absent.

And in the United States
large percentages of children
go to school each morning hungry…
and the cycle of
dis-education and poverty
is getting worse.

We need to begin to think
more seriously about the common good
both at home and abroad
and better understand that compassion
is crucially essential to our survival.

In the countless
prisons of poverty
around the world,
God is hidden in the suffering,
hidden in great and small acts of resurrection,
hidden in a truly inexhaustible mystery.

But there is no mystery about this:
the world is riddled with pain.
No life can escape it.
Even Jesus accepted it.
Pain is universal.
When we turn our attention away
from our own pain,
be it physical or emotional,
we can see the pain of others,
the pain of the world.

Once we truly see and feel
the pain of others,
we are impelled
to alleviate suffering
wherever and whenever
we encounter it.
In the process
we will slowly
come to realize
we are not the center
of the universe
and that all
living creatures
possess an
inviolable sanctity
that binds us all together
as sisters and brothers.

Over and over again,
Christ tells us that love
is the sole criterion
for eternal unity with God.
The love Christ is talking about
is far from a mere humanitarian concern
for abstract justice
and the anonymous “poor.”

Christ calls us to
a concrete and personal love
for all people,
including our enemies,
and for all of creation.
He calls us to be
his helping, healing hands.
Christ some day will say to us,
“When I was hungry,
you gave me something to eat.”
When we soothe the trials of others,
we encounter Christ.

We are called to be
angels of compassion,
God’s messengers delivering
food and hope
to those living with
hunger and despair.

God humbly and continuously
bends down in love
to embrace us
in our weakness and vulnerability.
God’s love is different
than our love.
God’s love means being willing
to love someone more than your own life,
for the sake of the other.
Every moment of every day,
God the All Powerful
willingly becomes powerless
and risks becoming
a beggar of love
patiently waiting
for us to respond
by not only loving God,
but also all of God’s creation,
especially the poor and rejected.
And compassion is the fullest expression
of the luminous force
of intentional love and kindness.


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