Tag Archives: poverty

Broken! God, where are you?

God, where are you? Have you ever gotten to that point where you look around, and the pitiable state people are in; the deplorable state of affairs just makes you wonder if God exists for real, and if He does, why He’s watching quietly as everything goes (seems to go) awry? This past week I’ve found myself in related instances. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes might bring into view a very bleak perspective of things.

A couple of days ago, my small sis came home looking so broken. Her eyes were all droopy and, her shoulders slouched. I could tell all was not well with her. “I cried today”, she told me.

I was in the kitchen preparing supper, so I just paused, knife in hand to look at her. “Why?”  I asked her.

A dejected sigh escaped her, before she answered, “When I was coming home, I saw this child on the street. From my estimation, he couldn’t be older than five. He was seated, leaning against a wall. I wanted to give him some biscuits I’d bought because I figured he was hungry. He was asleep, so I tried waking him up but he wouldn’t open his eyes”.

I was expecting the worst at that point… and I started dreading that the next words coming out of her mouth would be, he was dead. God-forbid! She sniffled before continuing, “I thought he was on drugs or something. Maybe some other kids already introduced him to them.”

“For most street kids it’s some sort of coping mechanism,” I explained. Then I figured he was only a small boy. I don’t have much experience with babies that I can use as some point of reference but I know some fall into deep sleep when they do get to sleep. So I also told her the same thing; or maybe, he’d been hungry for so long so he was too weak. I hoped it was the former. I know how it feels to go for a long time without food and honestly, I wouldn’t wish that, even on my worst enemy.

“When I figured he wasn’t waking up I just tucked the packet of biscuits under his sweater so the older kids wouldn’t snatch them from him. Guess what Aly? That’s when I noticed he didn’t have legs”.

“What?” I couldn’t help my surprised look. It’s not unusual to see a street child whose legs have been amputated, or who was born with under developed limbs, but hearing that about a homeless boy, and who was of such a tender age for that matter, made my heart bleed. He was out on the cold streets alone, and helpless. It certainly had to be harder for him living out in this callous world, with no one to fend for him or defend him.

His mom must have left him out there when she figured he was going to be a differently abled child. How unfair, I thought. “I don’t know how I’m ever going to live, knowing I left him out there,” my sister interrupted my momentary thoughts. “I haven’t a clue where he is. I’m scarred Aly.” She seemed broken, as those words left her mouth.

It wasn’t hard to imagine how tormented she must have been feeling. She has a big heart, and half of the times she does things even I have trouble comprehending. Sometimes I ask her not to let people take advantage of her kindness, because that’s just who she is. If there’s any weakness in her, I can bet that would be her biggest weak spot. I fear it would make her too gullible. But that aside, there was a baby living out there on the cold streets alone. The thought itself made my heart ache.

“God knows where that boy is,” I told her, “so let’s pray for Him to provide for him and that He may also keep him from harm’s way”. Nodding, she acquiesced. I could tell she would have wanted to do more for the child, but as it is, we’re so strapped for cash it hurts. Nowadays we’re merely getting by…

This and some other incidents reminded me of this Lenten reflection/prayer:

“My Jesus, the world still has you on trial. It keeps asking who You are and why You make the demands You make. It asks over and over the question, ‘if You’re God’s Son, why do You permit the world to be in the state it’s in?’

Why are you so silent?”

“…Your humility frustrates me, and makes me uncomfortable. Your strength before Pilate as You drank deeply from the power of the Father, gives me the answer to my question- The Father’s Will. The Father permits many sufferings in my life, but it’s all for my good. If only I too could be silent in the face of worldly prudence- steadfast in the faith when all seems lost; calm when accused unjustly; free from tyranny of human respect; ready to do the Father’s will, no matter how difficult”.

“Silent Jesus, give us all the graces we need to stand tall in the face of the ridicule of the world. Give the poor the strength not to succumb to their privation, but to be ever aware of their dignity as sons of God. Grant that we may not bend to the crippling disease of worldly glory, but be willing to be deprived of all things rather than lose your friendship.

My Jesus, though we are accused daily of being fools, let the vision of quiet dignity standing before monstrous injustice, give us all the courage to be your followers. Amen”.

 

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Too poor to afford high-end love

Titanic Jack and Rose

“You can’t give my daughter the things she needs in life. You say you love her, but love alone won’t put food on the table, nor clothe her. Just leave her alone. She needs someone who can sustain her prestigious life. She’s from a rich family, and you are poor. You’re not meant for her. You two can’t be together.”

Those are such depressing words, especially if it’s about someone one truly loves. I don’t know if I will ever conform to the idea of parents deciding who their children fall in love with, based on the financial status of their partners.

I consider it discrimination, and one of the worst kinds for that matter. Love is beautiful, but the minute we start putting up such barriers, we corrupt it. I understand a parent’s desire to protect his/her children; to ensure their needs are taken care of even after they leave the nest, but causing them untold misery while trying to prevent a love that’s already deep-rooted is unfair to say the least.

I grew up in a family where dad’s mother thought her children should marry into rich families. But as it is with love, it’s hard to dictate where it grows, so dad fell in love with mom, who’s from a poor family and his mother has never accepted it to date. I attribute many of the problems mom and dad have had to his mother’s incitement. Somehow she has always been bent on splitting them up.

I know in most of my posts I complain about dad’s shortcomings; even so, I see some good in him sometimes, especially when he is not drunk. Sometimes I wonder what kind of a man he would be if he didn’t drink so much.

On a good day, when he is sober, I see so much kindness in him; he radiates lots of compassion. But that side of him disappears the instant he imbibes anything alcoholic. I pray for a day to come when he won’t crave alcohol anymore. Maybe then, if all goes well, my sisters and I will have the dad from our early childhood back; a dad who wasn’t so cold… Everyone’s allowed to dream, right?

Back to love matters though, I don’t agree with parents preventing their children from dating certain people because they are from poor backgrounds. Money comes and goes. A rich man might go bankrupt the next day while a poor man’s star shines bright and he finds himself at the helm of a multi-billion company.

I always think, if a poor teenage boy falls in love with a rich teenage girl, who’s to say in a couple of years the boy won’t be rich? No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Luck changes, and I have an aunt who would attest to this.

When she was in college she fell in love with a poor guy and they even went ahead to get a baby. Her mom, who obviously felt her daughter deserved better, was against the relationship therefore she had my aunt break up with her boyfriend. Subsequently, she took the new born baby, so my aunt could finish up with her studies.

Fast-forward to thirty something years later, my aunt is still unmarried, and the poor guy her mom didn’t want for her is now a rich man. Everytime I think about my aunt’s predicament I wonder, if she went back in time, would she have fought for her love? And her mother, my grandma, if she knew the impecunious young man she rejected would one day be rich, would she have let him marry her daughter?

The words at the beginning of the post are from a show I was watching yesterday. A teenage girl’s mother was talking to her daughter’s boyfriend, asking him to keep off her because clearly she deserved someone from a rich family. The girl’s father additionally, asked the young boy to go make money first and when he was rich he would be free to marry his princess.

In a funny twist of fate though, the young boy grew up without parents because he was switched at birth with the same girl by the man’s wife, who was furious with her husband for cheating on her. Oblivious to them, the girl the parents are trying so hard to protect from poverty isn’t their flesh and blood and the poor boy is the one who is actually their real son.

Parents do many things-some of them awful- with their children’s best interests at heart. However, sometimes it is advisable for them to step back and let the kids forge out their own paths. I have seen enough instances-in real life and in movies-where parents meddle in their children’s love life and none of them has ever had a happy ending.

The last boyfriend my big sister had was an Indian guy and seeing as we’re not Indians, mom asked dad what he thought about the relationship. He didn’t have a problem with it. He said he wouldn’t want to butt in into our love lives, lest we had a fate similar to his sister’s. Hearing those words from him made me realize the seriousness of the issue.

He is not happy his elder sister is single, and it’s their mom who personally orchestrated it; in her attempt to fix her daughter’s life, she ruined it instead. I am not a mother yet, but I believe when I am, I will let my kids choose who they want to love, because part of being a parent is knowing when to stay out of children’s affairs.

It’s not easy I know, but one has to let their children make such choices. If it works out, good for them; if it doesn’t, well…the parents won’t have anything to blame themselves for. And money, as important as it is; lack of it is not enough to keep two people who truly love each other apart.

Fifteenth station: Jesus is risen from the dead

Fifteenth station-Jesus is risen from the dead

My Jesus, I repent of the sin of hopelessness. I beg Your pardon for many of the times I fell into depression for small setbacks and tragedies in my life. My Jesus, let me never feel rejected or defeated as You are risen and alive. I put my complete trust in You O Most Holy Risen Lord Jesus. I worship You and I bow down before You. All glory be to You O Risen Lord Jesus Christ, forever and ever.

Closing Prayer

My Jesus, I have travelled Your Way of the Cross. It seems so real and I feel so ashamed. I complain of my sufferings and find obedience to The Father’s Will difficult. My mind bogged down by the poverty, sickness, starvation, greed and hatred in the world.

There are many people who suffer so unjustly. There are those born with physical and mental defects. Do we understand that You continue to carry Your Cross in the minds and bodies of each human being?

Help me to see The Father’s Will in every incident of my daily life. This is what You did-You saw The Father’s Will in Your persecutors, Your enemies and Your pain. You saw a beauty in the Cross and embraced it as desired treasure. My worldly mind is dulled by injustice and suffering and I lose sight of the glory that is to come.

Help me to trust The Father and to realize that there is something great behind the most insignificant suffering. There is Someone lifting my cross to fit my shoulders; there is Divine wisdom in all the petty annoyances that irk my soul everyday.

Teach me the lessons contained in my cross, the wisdom of its necessity, the beauty of its variety and the fortitude that accompanies even the smallest cross. Mary my Mother, obtain for me the grace to be Jesus to my neighbour and to see my neighbour in Jesus.

Amen.

 

These Way of the Cross prayers are courtesy of the Vincentian Congregation, whose aims are to preach to the non-Christians so that they may be brought to the Christian faith and to preach to the Christians, to help them grow in faith.

 

Faith is…

faith can move mountains

Faith is like a seed; you water it, nourish it, and wait for it to grow. Things that pertain to faith shouldn’t be rushed. Like the seed; one doesn’t plant and wait for it to grow overnight. Sometimes, in unfortunate circumstances, the seed will be infested by pests and at times it could die undeveloped.

What is faith really?

A certain man found he was suffering from cancer. He was so bitter about it, because he felt God had disappointed him; He had let him down. This man said he was a believer; there’s not a Sunday that he failed to go to church; he took part in all church activities, when he married the first thing he did was to take his wife to church. Basically, he had been living a life most Christians would consider the perfect life of a true believer. Did he believe in God? Many would say he did. Did he have faith in God? Some would argue he had, but that would be debatable; he had little faith.

So what is faith? True faith is believing in God, even when one feels like things couldn’t get worse. True faith is seeing God’s hand in everything; seeing God’s hand in that illness, in that poverty, in the mistreatment at work by honchos. True faith is not just about believing in God when things are all hunky dory, but even in those instances we feel miserable and weary.

True faith is believing that God is the master and we are the servants; allowing His will to reign; accepting that all that happens, happens because He wills it, and believing that He does it for a greater purpose. Loving God and trusting in Him, even when our prayers go unanswered. Embracing that cancer (literally or figuratively), and believing that God allowed it. That is faith.

Christians from all walks of life learn to recite “Our Lord’s prayer” at some point:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be Thy name,

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven…

When we say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” it means we’re allowing God to do whatever He pleases. True faith means accepting His will; being at peace with whatever He lets happen to us. It sounds like such a task right? Accepting things we don’t feel okay with and stuff? But that’s the true definition of faith; accepting it, good or bad; embracing it all, because we understand that He only intends for us to be happy.

Strength comes from faith; if you’ve been praying incessantly, asking God to grant you the strength to accomplish something, now you have the answer. Just believe in God; nourish your faith, and the strength will come.

 

“I will never forget their evil deeds!”

Listen to this, you that trample on the needy and try to destroy the poor of the country. You say to yourselves, “We can hardly wait for the holy days to be over so that we can sell our grain. When will the Sabbath end, so that we can start selling grain? Then we can overcharge, use false measures, and fix the scales to cheat our customers. We can sell worthless wheat at a high price. We’ll find a poor man who can’t pay his debts, not even the price of a pair of sandals, and we’ll buy him as a slave.”

The Lord, the God of Israel, has sworn, “I will never forget their evil deeds.” (Amos 8: 4-7).

In the society we live today, the needy are trampled on by the powerful; those who are in high authority, and the massively wealthy. A needy person sues a wealthy person, say because they were forcefully evicted from their home…but somehow at the end of the day, they’re not given justice, simply because money exchanged hands behind the scenes. Justice seems to favour those in power.

A needy person rushes their loved one to hospital, urgently in need of medical attention, but they watch painfully as their loved one breathes their last, simply because the doctors couldn’t attend to them because they couldn’t pay for their services in advance. It sounds despicable when I think about it, but that’s the world we live in today. The needy survive only at the mercy of the rich; those in power.

Retailers and wholesalers hoard goods, waiting for prices to go up, so they can sell them at exorbitant prices, so those who can’t afford it go to bed hungry. An aggrieved woman goes to report a crime at the police precinct; the same officer she expects to protect her takes advantage of her. Who will she turn to? College Professors fail their students, because they refuse to trade in ‘favours’… Who will protect these students?

The law of the land seems to favour the wealthy, making the needy spend sleepless nights, trying to comprehend how life could be so cruel. Who will defend them, if those who’ve been put in place to protect them are the same ones making their lives impossible? God says He will. He has vowed not to forget the evil deeds of their oppressors.

God defends the weak

One thing I’ve learned over time is that, not all wealthy people/those in power are evil, and not all poor/needy people are good. For instance, I was reading this blog post about a popular media personality who died a few days ago in a terrorist attack, and someone had commented, ‘the rich also cry.’ I found it inhumane. How could someone say something so vindictive, when people were grieving? I’ve met needy people, who resent the wealthy for no apparent reason; needy people who are extremely spiteful, and I’ve also met people in power who are kind; people who don’t hesitate to share their wealth with the poor.

God says He will defend those who are wrongfully hurt; those who cry because they have no one to defend them. God will avenge them.