When Pope Francis exhorts us to see the face of Jesus in the suffering poor, that doesn’t mean poverty automatically makes a person Christ-like.
Even so, those who are lowly in the world’s eyes are often just the sort of people God uses to humble the high and mighty by demonstrating a life rich in faith.
One of those faith-filled people is Levis Mutua.
Levis is a teenage boy who is receiving an education at Brother Beausang Catholic School in Kenya through support from Cross Catholic Outreach. If anyone fits the description of “poorest of the poor,” Levis does. He told us: “Sometimes I have no water. I only eat the lunch that they serve us here (at school). Sometimes, especially Saturdays and Sundays, we don’t eat. Then I mostly just sleep because I’m weak. Sometimes our house is locked by the landlady and we must look for some place to sleep.”
The poverty Levis endures along with his mother and three brothers is heartbreaking. But the impressive part is that he’s not looking for a pity party. What immediately stands out about Levis, more than his malnourishment or material need, is his positive attitude, joyful demeanor and unshakable faith. When he talks about God, you can tell he’s not just saying what he thinks his sponsors want to hear. He has truly taken to heart his Catholic upbringing.
“My favorite subject (at school) is Christian religious education,” he told us during an interview in his shanty of tin and scraps, decorated with images of Jesus, Mary and Bible verses. “I’m a choir member and altar server. I like reading the Bible. My favorite verse is Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, you shall not be afraid,’ because I should not fear anybody, but only the God who is creator of my soul.”
Levis is determined to excel in school and lift his family out of poverty. But he also knows there is more to life than putting bread on the table. He says, “I would like to become a priest. I would like to serve the Lord according to my heart. I see myself serving the poor and the needy.”
May the Lord grant all of us such desire to follow Christ and love the poor.