"The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God." -St Irenaeus of Lyon

Our persistent material needs

So I was going to write a long post about how responding to the materially poor requires great time, energy, and investment.  But I find myself tonight without much energy at all.  We’ll see how it goes.

Many, many, many features of human existence stand out because of their reliability.  Doing the laundry, washing the dishes, cooking, showering, sleeping, eating, drinking… You know these tasks will be in your life.  Occasionally you can get away with extending the time between tending to the task.  But usually the break is short and temporary.  Yet these actions that define the often mundane nature of life can be extraordinarily difficult, especially if you ask the poor.  Indeed, in some places of the world, women spend 8 hours a day gathering water.

The persistent nature of our material needs require regular attention.  And if we are concerned with helping people meet their material needs, then we should realize that such concern should motivate regular investment.  I am not speaking of an enabling handout, but I am saying that we should consider a different tactic than a one-time gift.  After all, we do not cultivate relationships through one interaction.

Helping people develop ways and means around poverty requires a long-term investment in true relationship.  Every relationship takes time to build; but it seems that we should be expressly careful when we enter the relationship with the “upper hand” so to speak.  Remember, true relationships tend to be housed a bit more locally.  One need not travel to Africa to find poverty.

Saturday’s post will focus on some of the spiritual components of dealing with the poor, specifically as it relates to the assertion that we will always have the poor with us.


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