The least of my brethren

Amid America’s greed-induced economic collapse and expansion of the culture of death, we may tend to focus on our own sufferings, real as they may be for some of us.  Then one reads an article like this one, and our sufferings, though still very real, don’t loom as large.  As a husband and father, reading about suffering like this, my heart breaks for these people.  Seeing pictures like these makes it even worse, though they are not really very graphic at all.  Imagine the anguish, the frustration, the fear.  I can’t even begin to imagine my children having to endure something like this.  These people epitomize the “blessed” of the first Beatitude – “the poor in spirit.”  They are absolutely helpless, and must depend entirely on the Lord and on others for assistance.


In his Message for Lent this year, our Holy Father points to something we can do to show our unity with these suffering people:

At the same time, fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live……Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother.  By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger. It is precisely to keep alive this welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters that I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving.


Unfortunately, we may have no concrete way of helping these Zimbabweans.  The people to whom they fled, the ones most able to help them, are refusing to render any assistance at all.  May the Lord inspire the hearts of the South Africans with compassion and self-giving love.

Explore posts in the same categories: Africa, Lent, Pope Benedict XVI, Poverty, Suffering

4 Comments on “The least of my brethren”

  1. Christian Says:

    Walt, I lived in Northern Tanzania in 1994 during the Rwandan Genocide. So many refugees passed through the ‘village’ (tribe of hunter-gatherer’s really) in such an abject state of … well horror is the best word I can use; that rather quickly, there was no material way we had to offer any kindness at all. No way save one; I could still pray for them, and I have even to this day for some of the anonymous families I saw. Who knows what tides large and small are moved in this world by the power of a prayer.

    To get a basic feel for that type of situation, I recommend the movie “Hotel Rwanda”. Not for young children.

  2. Walt Says:

    Wow, Christian! First-hand experience. You probably have some interesting stories to tell. I had to look at a map of Africa to find out where Tanzania is.

    Thanks for the movie recommendation. I’ve never seen that one, but I think I’d like to. It would probably help increase my compassion for people involved in that kind of suffering.

  3. Walt Says:

    Looks intense!! Thanks for the link.

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