What it means to serve the poor? At present, people define poverty as a major obstacle towards progress. So, in order that this phenomenon may be prevented like a disease, politicians, businessmen, philanthropists, scientists and researchers should fine other alternatives to overcome this phenomenon that may totally be eradicated. But does it really and totally prevent this reality? Do these really serve and help the poor to uplift their lives from their miserable situation?
In my eight years experiencing of immersing with the poor, I learned so many lessons on what it means to serve them. Actually, they are the ones who taught me about the proper serving or service to the poor. From them, I learned that serving the poor is not an easy task. It should come from a genuine heart. Serving is not by giving surpluses but most importantly is, knowing them and living with them not only physically present but also spiritually. A genuine heart has the capacity to see need of the poor that is uniting with them in sufferings and miseries. A genuine heart which does not boast, gain popularities, and pursue power in serving. It empathizes, listens and it’s humble when serving and immersing with the poor.
Another thing that I’ve learned from them is sincerity. As I reflect on it, I realized that charity is rooted in sincerity. You cannot be charitable unless you are not sincere on your intention to serve and to get united with them. One thing that makes me feel sad about serving the poor is people nowadays serve the poor with a hidden intention. Simply put, if they serve the poor, they always seek for something in return. Some also show a proof that they really served them. I would like to cite an example. It is already a fad in entertainment and corporate world that whenever an entertainment or corporate agency served in a depressed area, they always take pictures. They love to advertise their activities with the poor because DSLR cameras are in a photo-shooting mode.
As I ponder my thoughts on this example I asked myself if these poor are a kind of a souvenir item. Are the poor serves as a testimony of their good deeds? Continuing in pondering my thoughts, I would say that sincere service for the poor does not testify on the photographs we produce, but rather it should come from within. Matthew 6:3 says, “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (NRSV, the very biblical passage on a genuine service which is very applicable in serving the poor and the needy. True sincerity is an inner attitude or an inner disposition for service. It does not show off and brag, rather serving is unannounced.
One thing that I’ve learned from them is true service; it is always and should be life-giving. Today, most of us are now going to the extreme as they are trying to solve the problem of poverty in the world. Now, they are imposing some possibilities, laws, means, and measures that are anti-poor and anti-life. It is a sad reality that these things are becoming now the ideologies of the postmodern world; that exterminating the poor becomes an alternative.
As I reflect on this I asked myself; are the poor pests? Are they the real cause of poverty that’s pestering the world? Imposing possibilities, laws, means, and measures that are anti-poor and anti-life is a disservice to the poor and uncharitable. True service to them always be and should be life-giving.
Poverty is not a disease but an opportunity for us to wake up and to do something humane and to give life to the poor. There will be always poverty in the world. But even though poverty is a never-ending story everywhere this should serve us to protect, defend, love, listen, and serve genuinely our less fortunate brothers and sisters because they are also like us. True service to them is a call for us to value life and also to value their lives because life is a gift and the only possession that they have. The only exemplar way that their lives be improved and be uplifted is through true service, and I almost forget to say, it should always be rooted in the words and deeds of Christ which for the poor serves as a life-giving testimony of hope.