Christ the Hope of the Rich and Poor

It felt wrong to reach for my water bottle.

The thirst was a perpetual itch just beyond hand’s reach. Throughout the week, we’d been traveling from one remote village to the next — each a nearly identical sprawl of thatched-roof houses, dirt paths and sun-scorched farmland. We were here to meet families in urgent need of clean water, but my dry mouth, cracked lips and sweating pores distracted me with my own need for a drink.

A drink I dared not take.

No, the filtered water I’d purchased at a grocery store in town would remain in my backpack as long as those aching eyes watched me: the eyes of barefoot children in tatters, and the eyes of their mothers who had been up before sunrise fetching discolored, parasite-infested water from a ditch for survival.

Tony Mator Cross Catholic Outreach staff writer Tony Mator is greeted by schoolchildren who lack access to clean water.

 It seemed the worst insult to indulge my thirst in front of those whose families were fighting monthly bouts of diarrhea and risking cholera infections on account of a contaminated — and barely existent — water supply.

In Christ, rich and poor are supposed to meet as brothers. But it’s hard to not feel a tension in that meeting — a sense that things are askew. Does love compel us to look past our financial differences as if they did not exist, or to single-mindedly fight to balance the scales? Should we feel guilty that we have more than they — or thankful? Should we expect them to seek our help, or to blame us for their suffering? And to what do we attribute the gap between their lifestyle and ours? Is it chance? Providence? Personal consequence? Social injustice? Or some combination?

We may not have all the answers, but what we do have is the Gospel, and the Gospel’s response to poverty is always and forever the same: hope.

Jesus said in Matthew 6, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ …But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Jesus’ teaching doesn’t mean we should ignore our brothers and sisters in need. To the contrary, it gives us the courage and motivation to act. It means that when we put God first, we can be generous without fear. And it means that when the poor put their hope in the Lord, He hears their cries and sends relief through the hands and feet of His followers.

In developing countries, hope means water for the thirsty. We hope and pray that with the help of our generous donors, we will continue to be able to bring clean, abundant water to the poor and, in the process, express Christ’s love.

Right now, we’re actively fundraising for an effort to build wells in Haiti. Please check in from time to time to learn about new as well as recurring water projects and what you can do to be God’s instrument of hope to the needy.