Monday, November 19, 2012

Living with the Poor

At a recent Christian Medical Association meeting, the speaker spoke about how to help the poor who are close to us, which is a very very very important topic to me.

Speaking as a "mainstream" Christian (i.e. non-Catholic or Protestant), he noticed that most Christian doctors don't live in poor neighborhoods. He related results of informal poll he'd done: he'd asked his Christian colleagues why they lived like typical doctors, when Christ lived among the poor and preached poverty. His colleagues told him that they'd been encouraged by pastors to use their gifts and acquire wealth to glorify God.

I almost fell out of my chair when he said that. I cannot imagine a devout Catholic priest saying that to a Catholic physician. To be charitable, I know that many non-Catholic Christians are also shocked at this sentiment (why else could the CMA speaker make us aghast during that meeting?), but the Catholic Church seems particularly immune to it, especially in her saints.

Even the saints who are wealthy, and our contemporaries who are in typically wealthy orders like the Order of Malta or the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, place explicit emphasis on dispensing wealth for the sake of the Church and the poor. (On an unrelated note: I just discovered that there are five knights/dames of the Holy Sepulchre at the parish where I attend daily Mass. They came in all their regalia to a special Mass recently and I was so excited.)

The happy news is, I'm Catholic and there are many non-Catholic Christians who are like me at least in this: they want to imitate the Catholic saints (whether they know it or not) and serve the poor without concern for themselves.

Practical suggestions from that speaker included living among the poor (to find out where to move, visit the Oval Project). Since my third and fourth years will be located in a different and larger city (in fact, my home town), I mapped it out and am looking for places where there are short ovals.

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