"Go to the poor and you will find God."-St Vincent de Paul
The poor. Who are they? What is being poor? Is it strictly a lack of financial resources? How can we go to them if we don't know who they are?
I once asked a group of students to tell me what they think of when I say "The Poor." The common responses were descriptions of people begging for food, standing on the side of a road with a sign or those living in a shelter. I would bet that is the picture many of us have when thinking about the poor. But let's change that picture. What if the poor wasn't a man standing on a street corner and it wasn't just about a lack of financial resources?
Sometimes the poor live next door to us. Sometimes we work with them. Sometimes they may be a family member. Being poor can mean a lack of financial resources. It can also mean a lack of a support system. It can refer to spiritual poverty. It can be an inability to cope with life's challenges. The point is that poverty comes in many forms.
At the core of Vincentian relief efforts is an essential skill and a trait-the ability to listen and not be judgmental. By listening and praying with our friends in need, maybe we will learn more about the poor. By not being judgmental, we will see what being poor is and isn't.
Then, as our Patron said, we can "Go to the poor and you will find God". It is at the core of our mission as Vincentians.