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Serving the undeserving

If we wish to realize the kingdom of God, then we must start understanding our collective culpability for the poverty of the marginalized

The ways of the Lord are not our ways.

Our ways – the ways with which we carry ourselves and bring about progress and order in our lives, and the ways with which we achieve success through an unrelenting drive for continuous efficiency and sustainability – are nothing compared to the ways of the Spirit. 

Our aspirations and accomplishments cannot be compared to the mystery with which the Lord plays the music of life, or conducts the motions of the heavens. 



The mind of God is inscrutable.

Yet the heart of God is closer than we think. 

The Spirit promises an abundance that cannot be provided by any globalized economy, and a lasting peace that cannot be attained by any popular political system. 

The wonders of the Lord defy any worldly explanation, and it so attracts us that even the great Apostle Paul proclaimed his dilemma in choosing between his desire to be with God now in heaven, or to obediently remain on earth to finish first what needs to be done.

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But this enigma of God can simply be explained in his love and compassion.  We cannot understand selflessness if we are used to living in a life of pride and selfishness.

In the Gospel, Jesus disturbs us with what it means to “deserve something”.  In our ways, those who are more capable or those who worked longer and harder, should deserve more; fairness demands that more compensation must be given to those who have created more value.  In our ways, it is inevitable that some will have much more than others.

But what happens to those who are less capable?  To those who can no longer contribute to social value, and are on the other hand, social liabilities? How do we treat who by their own fault, or by their succumbing to social pressures, have become threats? 

If we hold then that they should have less, or that they should be cast out from our “way of life”, then it is this kind of selfish thinking that breeds inequality and our social ills.

When we abuse wanting to acquire all that we can, “just because we deserve it”, then doesn’t that leave much less for those who “cannot deserve it” as we do?

So, the Lord stuns us by choosing to give the same means of living to the “more worthy” and the “less worthy”.  He is not radicalizing our sense of fairness; he is radicalizing our sense of love.  He is challenging those who have more, with the responsibility to give and support those who have less, so that all may live in decency and harmony.  Charity is not an inspiration; it is an obligation.

If we wish to realize the kingdom of God, then we must start understanding our collective culpability for the poverty of the marginalized and for the despair of the alienated.  If we wish his kingdom to come, then we must initiate appropriate social actions.

Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

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