Pope Francis had the same idea, raffling off fancy stuff he has been given.
Jesus famously invited certain followers to, “Go, sell what you have and give it to the poor.”
He tells us: “Go, stop buying what you don’t need, and give it to the poor.” Starting with the poor in our own communities.
Fourth step: Organize your friends to help.
Of course, helping those in need in our community is only part of the equation. The Church constantly points out that we also need to address the structural causes of poverty.
The problem: Consumerism and the almighty market on one side and the almighty state on the other are crushing people.
“The individual today is often suffocated between two extremes represented by the state and the marketplace,” wrote St. John Paul II in Centessimus Annus.
He proposed stronger families and stronger “intermediary communities” — community groups — to serve as buffers between individuals and the interlocking state and marketplace.
Pope Benedict said these were the logical places for service. “The state that would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing that the suffering person — every person — needs: namely, loving personal concern” he wrote in Deus Caritas Est.
Pope Francis also recommends we create communities of service capable of opposing the excesses of the state and marketplace — and called the parish a “community of communities,” hoping that many such groups would bloom within it.
This could mean Boy Scouts or Knights of Columbus or a group of our own. But we must do something.
To serve the poor, we must first root ourselves in Jesus Christ, and then draw our families and our communities into the effort. If we do, the results will be enormous.
If we don’t … well, if we don’t, we’ll go to hell when we die.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College.