The need to love and serve the poor

The need to love and serve the poor

None is more shunned and pushed around as the poor. What is worse, the treatment given to them is also often rationalised. The common perception is that the poor are irresponsible, slothful and deserve the abysmal life they are deemed to live. In the process, we are rude, mean and apathetic towards the poor and the marginalised.

Our attitude towards the poor is also influenced by the fact that we stand to gain nothing from taking a kindly stance towards them. Yet, a deeper reflection reveals quite the contrary. Developing love for the poor can bring to our understanding some deeper truths and fascinating facts of man, making us better human beings and drawing us close to a benign God, giving us a profound spiritual experience.

This trait of loving the poor was deeply rooted among spiritual stalwarts and many of the world’s most revered people. They had a spontaneous love for the poor. Among others, Mother Teresa, popularly called the ‘Saint of the gutters,’ lived her inspiring life loving and serving the poor.

She would say, “The poor give us more than we can give them. They’re such strong people, living daily without food.  We have so much to learn from them.”

She corroborated her belief with this incident: “We went out at night and picked up four or five people from the street and took them to our home for the dying. One of them was in a very bad condition and I wanted to take care of her myself. I did for her all that my love could do. When I put her in bed, she held my hand and there was such a wonderful smile on her face. She said one word, ‘Thank you,’ and she died. She gave me much more than I had given her. She gave me her grateful heart and I thought what would I have done in her place? My answer was, I would have tried to draw some attention to myself, I would have said: I am hungry or I am cold or I am dying. But she was so great, she was so beautiful in her giving. The poor are great people.”

The same idea is shared by Saint Jeanne Jugan, the founder of the congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor who run old-aged homes for the destitute. In her words, “It is so good to be poor, to have nothing, to depend on God for everything.”
While no one wants to be poor, talking to them kindly, giving them our love, attention, kindness and time could be an enriching and rewarding experience. Difficult as this may seem, we can turn to those like Mother Teresa for inspiration and guidance to love and serve the poor.