Reaching out amid lockdown
HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - April 22, 2020 - 12:00am

I know we can never wipe out poverty entirely. There will always be poor, suffering people. Christ himself said as much. “The poor you will always have with you…” (Mt 26,11) But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do anything, at least to mitigate that problem, helping poor people as much as we can. This is the very basic aspect of Christian charity.

With the present dispensation of lockdowns and quarantines, we can just imagine how the poor people, already suffering a lot during normal times, are suffering today. I know that we ourselves have our own share of privations, discomfort, and inconvenience brought about by these restrictions. But this doesn’t detract us from our duty to do whatever we can to help the more disadvantaged ones.

We simply cannot be aloof to the graver predicaments of the others. Let’s be wary of the tendency to be unmindful of the others simply because we may not be suffering as much. We can still eat and have our comfortable time. Our fridges are still well-stocked.

Let’s be careful because we can easily fall into a severe case of quiet and deceptive self-indulgence. We can think that we aren’t doing anything wrong because we are just by ourselves. This is a subtle form of self-indulgence and is definitely a sin. Christ wants us to love everybody as he has loved us, and love isn’t just not doing anything wrong to others. It’s being truly concerned for them, expressed in deeds.

Let’s always remember that if we want to follow Christ as we should, we have to deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24) This is always the rule to follow, in good times and in bad.

The very least thing we can do to help is at least to practice some form of self-denial, especially in our food, drinks, comfort, use of gadgets, if only to show solidarity with those who are denied of the basic necessities of life during these times. Let’s be very generous in this level of self-denial and self-giving.

But for sure, we can do a lot more. We shouldn’t forget that many people, with families to feed, have lost their job and their livelihood. And because of the many restrictions nowadays, many cannot report for work while many others cannot go home, are stranded, and quite broke. People in all forms of helplessness are numberless. Human misery has sunk quite drastically deeply these days.

We have to reach out to them. How? That’s another challenge to face. But there are always some ways. When we are dead then we cannot do anything anymore. Where there’s a will, there will always be a way! The human spirit, especially animated by divine love, can always find a way.

It doesn’t mean we be imprudent and reckless in our zeal to help others. There certainly are risks to take. But if we plan things well, and bring them to our prayer, we can be sure that we can do a lot to help others in these difficult times with so many restrictions to contend with.

Offhand, I notice there are already some people organizing themselves to do some feeding programs to many. This is a very good initiative. They have tapped their own personal networks and other organizations for this purpose, and it’s working.

What I find more challenging is to identify those who seem not to need some help because they enjoyed a level of comfort during the normal times, but actually are in great need of help these days. The overt poor are always easy to identify. And we already have some appropriate structures for them. It’s the hidden and the new poor that are quite difficult to identify and to extend help.

If we bring this concern in our prayer, I am sure we can find the appropriate ways to reach out to them.

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