Loving the Poor or Loving the Idea of Loving the Poor?

To commit to love the poor, to have the preferential option for the poor is not an easy task.

It should not even be a task. It should be a way of life.

And as a way of life, it is something that should be examined in the perspective of a relationship, a real relationship.

To borrow the thoughts of St. John of the Cross, there will come a time when this commitment, this ministry, this way of life will undergo the dark night of the soul.

As any relationship that enters first the honeymoon period, that stage when everything and everyone seems good and feels good, when nothing can ever go wrong, that will all go away and turn for the worse, if not the worst, if that relationship is to advance and deepen. That is when one enters the agonising experience of the dark night of the soul, when one is led to question whether the decision made was really right or should have been made in the first place. And that is when purification happens. When one is led to examine one’s motivations and choices and ways of dealing with the relationship. Am I really in love with the poor, or am I in love with the idea of loving the poor?

When a sincere confrontation happens, when a full consideration of what the relationship calls for, a sharing in all the joys and fears, the hopes and sorrows, what takes place then is that one is given the space and the time for a mature decision to fully enter the relationship and continue the journey or to walk out of it.

It is that moment, when, in love, and in full surrender, as Jesus has said, “not my will but yours, Father,” that we will be able to freely and fully commit ourselves in love to the poor, even until death.

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