Monsignor Nestor, who was pitching in for our pastor, recounted a story of how a man knocked at the parish office door to ask for monetary assistance due to a pressing need. The monsignor had earlier been made aware by the parish staff that it is not uncommon for dishonest people to come to the parish office pretending to have an urgent need. After talking to the person, the priest decided to give a little sum from his own pocket.
The good monsignor told me that if the man was lying, that was his problem. But he helped anyway because he felt that man "might be Christ" and Christ said that whatever we do to our brethren we do it to Him.
There are people who are obviously poor, but there are also those who are good at pretending to be poor to take advantage of the kindness of others. There are some people who make a living as "professional poor/beggars." It takes some skill to determine who they are. Thus, the differing opinions on whether or not to help those who beg from us.
As to the real poor you can see many of them on YouTube. If you type "the faces of poverty" you will be presented with videos of people, entire families living in abject poverty and squalor, lacking the basic necessities of food, shelter clothing and education. Their situation is unimaginable and they live bereft of human dignity. They just make your heart bleed.
There are charitable people and organizations like "Feed the Hungry," "So Others Might Eat," Catholic Charities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Missionaries of Charity, etc., who help such needy families, providing food, clothing and livelihood assistance, one person, one family at a time. But there are just too many of them. "The poor you will always have with you," Jesus said.
When we enjoy the blessings of life, do we in gratitude sometimes think about the poor and try to share a little portion of our blessings with some of them? This is a call especially of Lent.
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. May He hear their cry through our ears and may we take action on them with our hearts and our hands. #
"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."
"Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us! How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church!" Excerpt from the MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR LENT 2018