The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Friday, October 4, 2013

By his poverty you might become rich.

As a former Air Ambulance pilot I've seen and smelt just about everything that will make the average person nauseous. Some patients are brought on the aircraft smelling as though they haven't taken a bath in months. It's so funny, but I had to provide myself with a small bottle of cologne to counteract any unusual scents that were brought on the aircraft, even those that are created while on board; trust me when I say that altitude does not mix well with a loaded stomach. Many times I questioned whether or not I can continue, but 13 years later and I found myself still doing it.

This week's Gospel reading is one of my favorite stories in the Bible because it explains very clearly what we as Christians are expected to do; to be our brothers keepers. The second greatest commandment is "love your neighbor as yourself." For many of us this is a struggle as we find it very difficult to get down and dirty when the need arises as we saw in this week's Gospel reading. The poor beggar Lazarus was left outside the rich man's home with no attention given to him, not even the scraps from the table of the rich man who feasts sumptuously each day was offered to him.

Everyday I encounter one or more beggars on the street near the stop lights looking for handouts, some seeking money more than anything else. I can't help but to wonder to myself if the monies that they received are put to good use or do they use it for drugs and alcohol. At times I have to say to myself that this is the day that he/she plan to use the money for food. I am no saint and can honestly admit that I've driven by without giving thought to assisting. Sometimes I say that it would make me judge them less if I had non-perishables items in my vehicle daily so that I would not have to give money and wonder if they will use it for food.

If we profess to be Christians and others know of this knowledge then people automatically expect that we are suppose to give with no ifs ands or buts about it. The same goes for our Parish Priests and religious who are bombarded daily by the poor and downtrodden who pay regular visits to them with high expectations to receive, some wanting money above everything else. It just so happens that when they do not get what they want then they use profanity so strong that it will make your head spin. If someone is offered food and clothing, even shelter and refuses it because they wish money instead then we can assume that their intentions are not for their well being therefore I say it is best not to comply with their request. It becomes necessary at times to use tough love in cases such as these.

I recently encountered a moment where I used poor judgment that was very unbecoming of a Christian in my personal opinion. While driving to work I realized that I needed to stop at the ATM to withdraw some funds. As I pulled into the shopping plaza where the bank was located my eyes caught sight of a beggar sitting in his wheelchair at the entrance to the ATM facilities (a very familiar beggar). Instantly I got annoyed and decided that I did not want to be bothered so I turned around and left without my funds. The following day at Mass we heard the story of Lazarus and the rich man. While Fr. Clarke shared his homily I couldn't help picture myself as the rich man and the beggar in the wheelchair as Lazarus. It was as if Fr. Clarke knew what I had done; I'm sure I heard my name called in his homily. LOL

Thankfully I still have a conscience as this can determine whether we have any ounce of compassion left in us. I shared my story with my wife and explained to her how awful I felt. The Lazarus I encountered at the ATM is known to many so I knew where to find him the next day and decided to pay him a visit and offer him a gift that I should have done the day before. As my wife and I drove away I felt a sense of peace come over me and knew immediately that I did the right thing. I realized that we are not able to give always, but those moments when we can we should. Of course there are some beggars who have certain demands and expectations, but there are also some who will take whatever you can give. I can only wonder if God was sending me a message the day that I drove to the ATM, at a location that I do not visit very often?

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