18th September

“Who will excuse us before God for the loss of such a great number of people, who could be saved by the slight assistance we could give them?” This is a quote from St. Vincent de Paul and one that should make us all think. Yesterday evening one young man in a pretty dire state and not easy to talk to had me just about at the end of my tether. Not someone it is easy to help. His appearance on a fairly regular basis at the back door looking for all sorts of help and in various states of disarray is not one that immediately brings joy to me. However, even though inconvenient and frustrating, St. Vincent, who saw Christ in all people especially the poor and tried to teach us to do the same, would recommend patience, and seeing this young man through the eyes of faith. In his arrival Christ makes himself present. How can we help people value their life and see in themselves someone of great worth and with much to give? First of all we have to see it in them and try to reflect that back to them. I once heard a politician locally refer to such people as ‘feckless.’ But if we start by defining, judging, someone with that sort of adjective (and I admit in careless moments I have been tempted on occasion), how can we hope to help them overcome their problems, or encourage a government to put in more resources, that will inevitably be given a target that is not met and then seen as wasted. To help people have faith in themselves, we have to have faith in them, and when it is not obvious to us we have to trust in Jesus’ message to us of the value of and in the poor and their closeness to God.

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