In this weekly column, local pastors have been asked to write about how the church should address poverty in our community and worldwide. You can learn more about poverty in Hall County at gainesvilletimes.com/poverty.
How do we address the needs of the sisters and brothers in our midst?
There are many categories of needs, which include immediate and long term.
The immediate, perhaps, would be food, shelter, clothing and medical care.
Long-term needs would be looking at a more comprehensive issue of poverty in our society, perhaps looking at job creation, training and education for those at the poverty level.
People of faith have for a long time responded to the immediate needs of people with food banks, offering rent and mortgage assistance and clothing drives. We take the biblical message of Jesus to heart, which states, “Feed my sheep ... (and) ... tend my lambs ...” (NAB, John 21:17). Despite continued efforts, there is still much more that we can do to help those with immediate needs.
Have we done enough to address the long-term needs of those in poverty? For example, our education system is not consistent from city to city, even within the same school system. Another need to be addressed is that of mental health care. How can we let those with mental illness live in the streets with nothing but a box?
The needs are great in our society, especially a society with such great wealth and opportunities for so many people.
The needs are great and the answers and solutions are even greater. We have to continue to address the questions and needs and work harder for the answers.
As a community, we expect the government to address the large needs, but we may need to work out a solution with our efforts and resources. Sometimes, the short-term solutions lead to long-term answers for those in need.
The more we give and share what God has given, the more his glory is expressed and whatever we do in the Lord’s name becomes even greater.
In the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus took what was given to him and blessed it and gave it back to be distributed. What began as a meager amount becomes an abundance for so many.
The Rev. Eric Hill is the father at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Flowery Branch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.