I recently wrote a blog post in which I showed the deceitfulness of a a blog post by Father Ray Blake which was linked to by Father John Zuhlsdorf. Both of these priests are radical traditionalists who believe the Catholic Church is basically in apostasy with the exception of the traditionalists, who are the only real Catholics left in the world.
In my post, I referenced another blog post by Father Blake in which he talks about the poor and homeless and what a pain in the a-- they are.
Father Blake's post about the poor received attention from the secular media because of its harsh description and apparent rejection of the homeless by a Catholic priest. However, I did not mention that Father Blake tries to redeem himself at the end of his post.
. . . even in our pain and suffering we can grow complacent, 'the poor' challenge our complacency. They interrupt our comfort, our prayer, our routine bringing the mess of their lives into our lives.
. . .
The sin of the Pharisees, of the rich man in the story of Dives and Lazarus is complacence. The rich man didn't even notice the mess that Lazarus created at his front door, he didn't respond to it, he needed someone to bring him out of his complacency.
My big difficulty with confession at the moment is that I have grown complacent in my lifestyle, I don't want it changed, the message of the Gospels seem to be let the poor into it to mess it up a little.There were not just a few bloggers who rushed to defend Father Blake against the charges brought by the secular media. One person who commented on my blog respectfully suggested that I also need to revise my opinion of Father Blake's attitude towards the poor. After all, he does say they help us spiritually, doesn't he?
So Father Ray tells us in the first part of his article how disgusting and disruptive the poor are, but he mitigates this by stating that we need the poor to shake us out of complacency. First he is disgusted by them, and then he says that he needs them for his own salvation.
But there is a very important element missing from Father Blake's message. He tells us, "The sin of the Pharisees, of the rich man in the story of Dives and Lazarus is complacence." Complacence? Was "Be Not Complacent" the message of Jesus Christ?
Where is Father Blake's concern for the poor and homeless? Can he possibly get past his own needs and how he is either disgusted or how he benefits? Where does Father Blake tell us that we must actually learn to love the poor? That just does not seem to figure into his message. Would you feel loved by someone who said you are disgusting, but you have worth because you are good at shaking people out of complacency?
Look at one of the greatest saints of the 20th Century, St. Teresa of Calcutta. She lived her life caring for the poor and homeless. She would literally go into garbage dumps and pull people out. She would lift people out of the gutters and carry them on her back. We can only imagine how "disgusting" that was. These people were probably covered with rotting, stinking garbage, flies, maggots and their own wastes. Did she secretly feel these people were disgusting but she helped them anyway because it benefited her?
What was Mother Teresa's attitude towards these poor souls?
“I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”Mother Teresa loved Jesus Christ with her entire being, and she served others because she knew that was the best way she could serve Our Lord. Did Mother Teresa see the poor as "disgusting"? She saw Jesus in the poor, and that filled her with love, not disgust. She didn't hold her nose and help the poor because it was "good" for her. She didn't give her life to the poor because it would shake her out of complacency. It never occurred to her to give to the poor because it would be beneficial to her in any way. She gave to the poor because she loved their Champion, Jesus Christ.
- Mother Teresa
I must admit that for most of my life I felt completely disgusted at the sight of homeless people. I would never think of giving to anyone begging for money. I didn't even go so far as Father Blake in thinking that it might benefit me to help the poor. I would just hurry by them and put them out of my mind as fast as I could.
The truth is, I was much poorer than any of those asking for help. That drunk laying in the gutter was likely much closer to God than I ever was.
Jesus directed his ministry to the poor and rejected of society. He never shunned them in any way. Our Blessed Mother put it so well:
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
Father Blake is right. We do need the poor. But Father Blake is so wrong when he says the greatest sin of the Pharisees or of the rich man is "complacency." Their sin, as with all of us, was their inability to love.
The poor can do far more than shake us out of complacency. They can teach us how to love, truly love, with no thought for ourselves. They can teach us how to completely give of ourselves. We can give them material goods, but they will lead us to Christ.
Don't let your motivation be only how you benefit. Ask Christ to fill you with true love for the poor as we saw so beautifully in St. Teresa of Calcutta. Ask Our Lord to let you see Him, just as she did. Forget about yourself, and follow St. Teresa of Calcutta's lead, and just love.