Kevin Bates sm


October 2, 2013


Don’t you just get sick and tired of people banging on about the poor, about now needy they are, how desperate their plight. Talk about asylum-seekers is especially annoying, especially since we can’t seem to find a way to deal with them and get them off our TV screens.  


It’s really wearing when we have to keep hearing of their arrival off our shores and just as annoying hearing people going on and on about their rights and how poorly we are treating them. People become so moralistic and high and mighty when talking about these people. 


One way to “stop the boats” that is being considered apparently by our new government is simply to cease reporting their arrival each time a new boatload of people appear on our radar. That should work!! 


Then there are the poor who are already in our midst, the homeless, single parents, many of our indigenous Australians, people with disabilities and their carers, many elderly people and so it goes.  


All these people are a drain on society in some way, and often enough are the cause of annoyance, embarrassment or anger when they intrude into our world too immediately. 


Poor people have as part of their job description if you like, the task of making us feel uncomfortable. We don’t know just how to respond to them. Nor do we know what they are going to ask of us and this in itself makes us cranky. 


This week the Australian Catholic Bishops have offered us yet another opportunity to be annoyed by the poor, with their Social Justice Statement for 2013-4, “Lazarus at our Gate.”  


More conscience pricking from these “ecclesiastical do-gooders” will either make us cranky or just tired of the constant reminders we get about the poor among and around us.  


What are we to do? 


Well, we could try to hide from all this news and shrink back into our own little igloo where life is under control, comfortable and not so bothersome. 


We could turn our weariness and annoyance into something more fruitful. We could listen more deeply and attentively than we have ever done before and find some practical way to respond to the plight of those in need.  


We could do more than simply salve our guilty conscience by making a donation or two, and we could seek some way of accompanying someone who is in special need.  


It’s quite possible that we are not annoyed at all by the plight of the poor, and like the Lord whose love is sung in the Psalms, we already “hear the cry of the poor.” Already we may be doing a great deal to support those in need, perhaps quietly and with great generosity.  


In that case, we could spend some energy encouraging others to do the same. 


Sharing what we have is a great liberating experience. We are less and less frightened of losing what we have because we are more focused on sharing it in the first place.  


Our hearts become free to love, and our only anger or annoyance is caused by the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters have little or no hope of living a free, healthy productive life.  


We find ourselves hurting on behalf of those who have no one to cry for them.  


We find ourselves listening to Jesus’ voice with fresh ears as he urges us to look after each other especially those who are poor and in need. 

Let’s pray for one another this Social Justice Weekend, for hearts that will release new hope and new justice for others. 


“The struggle against destitution is not enough. It is a question rather of building a world where every person can live a fully human life, and where the poor man Lazarus can sit down at the table with the rich man.” Pope Paul VI 

Father Kevin