St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

God has the Face of the Poor

God has the Face of the Poor                                                     -Homily December 20, 2015

 

Mercy is the movement of our heart towards the misery or suffering of our neighbour (in Latin mercy = misericordia, where cordia comes from cor, heart). In order to be merciful, in order to be compassionate, we need to know the suffering of our brothers and sisters, but in such a way that we experience in a certain sense their suffering as our own. Compassion means something like this: to suffer with (from Latin, passio, related to pati = to suffer, and com = with).

 

Maybe to be merciful is something like to “suffer with” Jesus… To suffer for the same reasons he suffers. How can we “suffer with” our neighbour? Is the suffering of Jesus the suffering of our neighbour? In a certain sense it is: “I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was homeless, and you gave me shelter. Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to me” (Cf. Matthew 25:35.40).

 

I was in a presentation last week about the issue of migration in Mexico. The presenter was excellent, a sociologist who has lived in Mexico for more than 30 years. He made us feel the misery, frustration and desperation of people who have to leave their own country, but at the same time he made us understand the reasons for that suffering. Those who suffer sometimes do not know precisely the reasons why they suffer, or the causes of their misery. This sociologist, as a scholar, knew very well the reasons for their misery. Not only because he has met them personally, but also because he had a deep understanding of the movements of the heart of people, of the causes of that misery… I wonder if he does not suffer more than them. Some of those who were in the conference room began to cry. He showed only two pictures, but he managed to instil in our hearts a little bit of the suffering and of the anger of God himself for the injustice in the world.

 

Why does God allow those things to happen? I don’t know, but I do know that he is not indifferent to them. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). There was a reason for Jesus to suffer, there must be a reason for this suffering too. But there is no reason why we can be indifferent. God could fix the world by himself, he could give us all the food we need without us having to move a finger. A father can do the same for his children, but a good father does not. If you want your children to grow, you give them not only food, but the education they need to feed themselves when they become adults.

 

I think God gave us, who eat every day, the possibility of doing something for our brothers and sisters who suffer more. In the generosity of Canadians, and particularly in your generosity with Pic Mobert and our refugee family, everybody can see a sign of your mercy:  a sign of your suffering with the suffering of your neighbour, and a sign of your actions, your motion, your love to heal the wounds of misery in the one you consider your brother. If you consider a Syrian refugee your brother or sister, you are certainly not wrong. And if you see in him your Lord and God, again, you have a point. You are a Christian, and your God said to you: “I was hungry, and you gave me food.” Imagine how sweet those words will sound to your ears on the Judgment day. On that day, those who have suffered will be rewarded much more, the unjust will be punished, and hopefully all of us, sinners who have been forgiven, will be treated as saints, as children of the merciful Father.

 

May the Lord grant us the grace to be merciful, to share with others the mercies we have received from God. Every gift is something that makes us able to give. Every gift is a responsibility. God empowers us with every gift to be merciful as he is merciful. May we see his own face in everyone we help.  –Fr. Andrew