PARADOXICAL

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

 

The poor's knowledge of God


Being poor is hard enough. To be looked down upon because one is poor stings even more achingly. But before I cause tears from falling, let me remind ourselves that the poor are no stranger to things like happiness and God. I myself am not rich but I am nonetheless surprised to realize this. The poor need God more than anyone else; the rich are too self-sufficient to think about Him. A few years ago, when I had a chance to minister to boys who couldn't make it to college because their parents were financially hard-up, I heard each one talk about how much they knew God loved them in spite of the fact that they were poor. They talked about God in a way that I never heard horizontally enhanced, hip-hop-attired, cell-phone-toting boys do.

I was astonished. I was at a loss for words. Here I ws, studying a personal God for years and I found Him still all mysterious, and here was someone I was ministering to and her seemed to know God even better.

Fr. J.L. once related a story straight from the slums of Tondo, in Manila, where he had served: People from the squatter area were having a prayer meeting when some smart-alecky outsider made this scathing comment within the hearing distance of the accused: "Naku, uma-attend lang ang mga iyan dahil may libreng pagkain." ("These people are only after the free food.")

Of course, God's poor took offense. One of them was said to have retorted, "Wala na nga kaming bahay, wala na kaming makain, wala pa kaming Diyos. Hindi naman na yata tama 'yon." ("Isn't it enough that we have nothing else left, no house, no food to eat...Do we have to lose God too? Now that would be really unfair!")

Don't be surprised to find the poor and the simple having a deeper knowledge of God than you and all the theologians combined.

9.19.2000


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