04 June 2007

The Poor Among Us

Today's first reading begins our week-long reading from the book of Tobit (the book formerly known as Tobias). The stories in this book take place in the city of Nineveh after the Assyrians had captured Israel. Tobit sends his son Tobiah into the streets to find a poor person with whom he may share his festive meal. This act of munificence leads Tobit to a greater act of charity when, later in the reading, he buries a dead kinsman despite the heckling of his neighbors.
Tobit himself was an exile and, in his good fortune of having a fine dinner prepared for him, he seeks to share it with one who is less fortunate than he. For many of us, we are able to be generous to the poor around us by participating in programs which are organized to feed the homeless or homebound. Our students, faculty and staff collaborate with a number of different outreach initiatives to feed the hungry. In addition to those who are physically or economically poor -- for whom programs are established -- we have others in our midst who are poor in ways that often go unnoticed. Every workplace has someone who is a little more "left out" of things than others. These, too, are the poor. Their poverty may be more private than one whose poverty is physical or material but, often, it can be more painful. Let us reach out to the poor among us who are sometimes a great deal closer than we expect.
"Converse willingly with the poor, be pleased to have them near you, be often in their company."
St. Francis de Sales

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