Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Good Read

These paragraphs (excerpts) resonate:

Taken from "Why I stopped serving the Poor"
By Claudio Oliver

Throughout my life I have kept the habit of always asking myself whether what I am doing makes sense, whether my heart is aligned with God’s will, and whether or not I am missing the point.
Over the years I’ve discovered that the very position of serving the poor from a commitment to “liberate” them, has been filled with a sense of superiority. A kind of superiority that is translated into giving others what I have, assuming through my actions that what I have or do is what he/she should have or do. This subtle translation is noticed in the subtle arrogance of the so-called politics of “inclusion”, always trying to put the other inside the box where I live, including them in the sameness of my lifestyle.
All of this led me to give up on serving the poor. By making this kind of statement I am not taking sides with those who, from their positions of wealth, comfort and well being say, “See? That’s what I have always thought.” I’m sorry to inform these people that in no way do I believe in or embrace their lifestyle. A lifestyle that by design, separates them from contact with the poor, the sick, the hungry, the naked, the ugly, the smelly, and the “uncivilized” barbarians.
I do not side with those who pay their taxes or contribute to charity saying in that way they are fulfilling their role. To these people I keep on retransmitting the message of Jesus that confronts their blind, insensitive and arrogant lifestyles, a message that calls madness what the worlds calls security.
We suddenly saw ourselves mirrored in the very “poor” we were serving. We recognized that we were constantly using the same excuses and lies to get what we wanted - perhaps more successfully, and surely with more social acceptance and security mechanisms. But throughout this process we came to discover that we were “the poor”.
The only way to remain with the poor is if we discover that we are the miserable ones. We remain with the poor when we recognize ourselves, even if well disguised, in him/her who is right before our eyes. When we can see our own misery and poverty in them, when we realize our own needs and our desperate need to be saved and liberated, then and only then will we meet Jesus and live life according to His agenda.
God is not manifest in our ability to heal, but in our need to be healed. Finding out this weakness of ours leaves us in a position of having nothing to offer, serve, donate, but reveals our need to be loved, healed and restored.
Herein lies the meaning that the power within us is not the power of our strengths, abilities and wealth, but rather, in the power that is present in our personal misery, so well hidden and disguised in our possessions and false securities.

Serving from the Bottom-Up

I came to re-encounter my poverty, to see myself in each situation of misery, and to get in touch with my inner pain. From there, I pray for healing, freedom, community and love. I ask for mercy and restoration.
Whoever serves out of the sense of having something to offer, serves from the top down.
Jesus calls us to become incarnate and to see ourselves in the other and to place ourselves under him or her as powerless dependents. He calls us to give up in trusting our own capacity to impart goodness and to change our direction in order to encounter and recognize our own wounds, weakness and pain. From there, we discover the power that lies in being less and not more.