God has not forgotten the poor. He has not forgotten the poor in Africa and the poor all over the world. God blesses those who show concern for the poor. The Psalmist says “Happy is the man who has concern for the helpless. The Lord will save him in time of trouble. The Lord protects him and gives him life, making him secure in the Land.” Christians should try to claim that wonderful blessing from God.
As Christians, we should know the gifts the Church has from time immemorial. The Church cares for the poor, the orphans and widows. Right from the history of the Old Testament, God condemned those who oppressed the poor. Amos spoke about those who trampled upon the poor. In this time, Micah condemned the rich who oppressed the poor in their land. “In a just society, the problems of the poor lessened.
The Church creates an awareness of injustice and oppression. The church speaks about the structures of the society that create poverty. She points her finger at them. T hrough these means, there will be a new courage that will awaken people to real liberation in the souls of men and in the structures of the society. It is through this way that our leaders will begin to think and our men of action begin to act.
In our time, theology has become a liberation theology and many Pastors have become martyrs because they defend the poor. One Archbishop said “When I give food to the poor they call me a saint and when I ask why they have no food they call me a politician”. When the Church confronts the structures that create poverty, they say the church should not be involved in politics.
What is politics? When a politician tells us in his speeches that he is on the side of the people, that he is only in politics to improve living conditions, we give him our votes. After winning, he forgets us and divorces himself from us. He looks at us with half-closed eyes and with pride that hurts. All of us are involved to care for the poor.
If we continue to see our church as the church of the poor we will succeed in creating a better world for them. We will come to know that it is not enough to recall principles, state intentions, point to crying injustices and utter prophetic denunciations with action. T hese words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied with action. Before we send people to St. Vincent de Paul Society or any other charitable society, we must do something first to help them regain their dignity and self-esteem.
It is too easy to throw back on others responsibility for injustices without one knowing that he is a part of it. Today we must show concern for the poor of our Parishes. The local Ordinaries should tell the priest to empower the poor to be masters of their destiny.
• Very Rev. Monsignor Livinus Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of many books and a crusader of Peace and Social Justice.