Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Standing with the Poor

According to Webster’s online dictionary, the definition of poverty is “the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount.” If this is true, then every human being is in some sense “poor”, whether we consider either our sinfulness or that fact that no one is self-sufficient in this life. Each of us is in need of help from those around us, rendering us, in some sense, “poor”.

Despite this understanding of our general human poverty, it is undeniable that there are growing numbers of people who endure poverty because they are denied the basic necessities of life. These necessities include food, housing, medical care and employment that would allow them the resources to care for themselves and their families. Over the past few weeks, we have been reflecting on these many “faces of poverty” and how we, as a Church, are called to stand with the poor in our midst in concrete and effective ways. Such solidarity with the poor is never optional for a Christian, since it is a mandate given to us by Christ Himself. For as he reminded us in Matthew 25, “Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

As I reflect upon this divine mandate to stand in solidarity with the poor, a healthy recognition of our common poverty can help spur us into action to alleviate the concrete sufferings of our neighbor. More specifically, we can easily fall into the illusion that we are self-sufficient and not dependent upon our neighbor or even God for our basic necessities. This is both false and harmful. Rather, at a blink of an eye, at a moment when we least expect it, our poverty can become evident with a sudden diagnosis of disease, the loss of a job or the death of a loved one. On any given day, each of us can be only one moment away from joining the “least of my brothers and sisters”. And if this happens to us today, would we not want someone to reach out to us in our hour of need? And is we would expect such help to be given to us, why would we not be ready now to give the same help to those around us?

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos! Do not miss Bishop Frank’s video: What Does it Mean to Stand with Christ?

Standing with the Sick

We have all faced times in our own lives or in the lives of our family members and friends when suddenly, often without warning, sickness or disease strikes. At such times, we are often filled with an avalanche of questions and a flood of emotions, especially when we are helpless to assist a person we love very much. At such times, the sick person experiences his or her vulnerability in a deep and profound way and needs to be reassured that they are not alone. Such reassurance can only come from those around them.

I remember when my mother was battling lung cancer, I accompanied her for every chemotherapy treatment she received at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. The doctors, nurses, and staff were simply outstanding in their care for all their patients, including my mother. Nonetheless, those months were filled with questions that I wished I could have answered for my mom and was simply unable to do so. Each day brought new challenges and questions. The only response I could have was to be present to her in a loving, reassuring way. My mother would often remind my sister and me that we are always in God’s hands. Hers was a faith that inspired my faith, despite her personal sufferings.

One day when mom was undergoing treatment, I went down to the cafeteria to get a snack. I accidentally pushed the wrong button on the elevator and found myself entering into the pediatric section of the hospital. Even after I recognized my mistake, I remained on the floor and was overwhelmed by the sight of little children battling cancers and at times, suffering so deeply. It reminded me of the Lord’s saying, “Let the children come to me”. I left that floor with a deep resolve to make sure that such children are never forgotten.

All who are sick, especially our children, need to be reassured, loved and supported in their hour of greatest need. And such support can only come from you and me.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos! Do not miss Bishop Frank’s video: What Does it Mean to Stand with Christ?