The Many Faces of Poverty

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In the Webster’s online dictionary, the word “poverty” is defined as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions”. This definition reflects the modern world’s understanding of poverty, seen solely in material terms. However, for those who share faith in the Lord Jesus, we know that poverty has many other faces, none of which have anything to do with material possessions.

Let us consider for example those people who have been denied the affirmation and affection they deserve simply because we are all children of God. This can happen in the most affluent of families, as well as the most materially poor. Faith reminds us that the worldly attempt to show love for someone through the giving of gifts, money or material possessions is only a shadow of what true love is meant to be. Rather authentic love is better expressed in time spent together, telling a person the truth for their own good, standing by someone in times of challenge and forgiving a person when they fall or sin, even against us. Such experiences are transformational in part because they do not demand any material possessions. Anyone can love, whether they are materially rich or poor. In this sense, there is great poverty among many people who may otherwise live comfortable lives.

Poverty also can take a spiritual form. How many people do we know who are angry, upset, disappointed with events in their lives and have turned away from the Lord? They flee from the very One who will stand by them in their darkest hours. For such as these, they find themselves in a form of poverty that can easily empty them of all hope for the future. They are perhaps among the poorest in our midst.

This week we will reflect on the many faces of poverty, as we seek to find effective ways to respond to such needs.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos!