“The Lord hears the cry of the poor” declares today’s responsorial psalm. Do I hear that cry?
I thought I was poor when I was growing up. True, we were on the edge of poverty, but we had a home and food to eat. All I could see was that most of my classmates at school had nicer clothes and homes. I was so busy wanting more that I could not hear the cry of the poor. When I was a young adult, married and raising children, I began to realize that I was not poor. However, I was still so busy wanting more that I could not hear the cry of the poor.
I began to hear that cry in a Bible study when a man came to talk about his experience among the poor. He told us that in order to truly hear them and understand them, we needed to be among them, to meet them where they live, and listen. So we began to listen. We went out to a park near the library in our city, a place where the homeless people congregated. We were like a flash mob suddenly appearing, setting up tables filled with food, and sharing that food with whoever we could find. We began to do this on a regular basis, and we talked with these people and discovered that “they” are not really that different from “us.”
We began to listen, and when we were listening, we heard. Finally, I can hear the cry of the poor. I was kind of like the son in the gospel who said no in the beginning but regretted it later and went to work in the vineyard. I did not listen in my youth, or even in my middle age, but now I am listening, and now I am responding. And now I am discovering many new brothers and sisters. I still struggle with wanting more, but at least I do struggle.
Am I listening? Who is crying out to me?