I often think that I don’t do enough. This Sunday’s gospel begs that question of each of us. Are we feeding the hungry enough? Visit any prisoners lately? Clean out the closet of those clothes that don’t fit anymore and give to the poor?
But this kind of self-reflection while good at heart can be taxing as well. It’s not necessarily how MUCH we give (after all, the widow gave 2 cents in another gospel!) but rather the fact that we are able to do SOMETHING often enough.
My experience in Nicaragua gave me a lot of new ways to think about this. Because we really don’t know poverty in our country, for the most part. Granted there are poor people but I’ve never seen such devastating poverty as I did as when I visited the garbage dump where people made their homes. Imagine having to do that! A watch a young high schooler jump into a hammock, exhausted from the heat of the day, that was filled with bugs–and he thought nothing of it.
I played with orphans all day and was a “good tired” by days end. One in particular who couldn’t walk captured my heart. We sat in the chapel in the mornings–Elvira and I. She would smile at me and we’d listen to music. It was there that I think I saw how vulnerable we both were. I couldn’t change her situation. I couldn’t fix her legs or give her a better situation—and yet I was still enough for her in that moment and her for me. Feeling this kind of helplessness placed me in solidarity with Elvira–to the point where I realized just how important human connection is above all else. Perhaps the poor will never have enough and perhaps there is something that lingers in us that deprives us of thinking that we are enough as well?
This experience with Elvira allowed me to understand a bit of what it’s like to be helpless–something little Elvira faces every day. How can we simply be someone who helps others realize that we stand with them in the midst of their suffering. We may not be able to change things much–but what little relief that we can provide in that moment is often something that can change us—change our way of life.
That is where God calls us–to be changed for the better. To be mindful of the poor and more importantly of what is enough for us. We may find that we live with great excess and that we need a lot less than we already have. That friends, may be exactly where our reflection takes us and it may just give us the opportunity to …
Give the hungry a bit more.
Provide relief for the thirsty
Clothe the naked.
Have time to visit the imprisoned and those who don’t have visitors.
Take time for those who are ill.
All it takes is a bit of time to ask ourselves—do we have enough?
No, perhaps the question to ask is…Don’t I already have too much?
And when we do may we find more time to do more for others.