(Part 21)


December 16, 2014

Today’s reading:  Psalm 34:2-23

Evangelization and work with the poor are the two major works of the Church. These two in fact are interconnected. They go together. The Church’s concern is the total well-being of people—body and soul, liberation and salvation, social and spiritual. One without the other is incomplete.

Who are those whom the Lord hears when they cry out in their need? Who are those whom the Lord rescues and saves? The poor and the righteous. “This poor one cried out and the Lord heard, and from all his distress he saved him.” (v.7). “The righteous cry out, the Lord hears and he rescues them from all their afflictions.” (v.18).

The poor are in a dire situation, deprived of even basic things in life. Many have lost hope. But there is always hope, because God is there. God loves the poor. God has a preferential option for the poor. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.” (v.19).

For the materially poor, what is even more important than physical or material relief? It is salvation. It is not just about the body but more importantly about the soul. It is not just about a better life on earth, but the best life in heaven. “My soul will glory in the Lord; let the poor hear and be glad.” (v.3).

Our work in the New Evangelization is to proclaim the gospel of salvation in Jesus and to minister to the needs of the poor. This should be a massive work of the Church. What is the goal? That there will be no one in need. This happens as people turn to Jesus and receive his salvation and liberation. Those who meet and know Christ will no longer be in need. “The rich grow poor and go hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (v.11). Those who are in awe of God, those who start to live Christ, will no longer be in need. “Fear the Lord, you his holy ones; nothing is lacking to those who fear him.” (v.10).

On our part, we share Christ. We help bring people to Jesus and get them started on the path of righteousness. We introduce the poor to Jesus who identifies intimately with them. Thus can they begin to experience salvation and liberation. Not all problems will go away. Challenges might even intensify. But now they will have Jesus with them. He is their Savior. “Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” (v.20).

The world is a valley of tears. We cry out in our pain. But we need to cry out to the One who can deliver us. “The eyes of the Lord are directed toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.” (v.16). Then we will lack no good thing.

*     *     *