“Today Christ stands at our door and knocks in the person of the poor. It is Christ that we honor when we give aid, when we give ourselves to those in need.”
When St. Anthony speaks of the poor, he speaks of Christ. And Jesus himself, of course, told us that when “you do this to the least of these, my brothers, you do it to me” (Matthew 25:40). I believe missionaries are some of our best teachers when it comes to caring for the poor. Deacon Greg Senholzi gave a beautiful reflection on Sr. Jane Reilly, CSJ, and the work she does in our diocesan mission in the Dominican Republic when he visited there on an immersion trip. He wrote:
“Sr. Jane Reilly is a close friend of mine from my youth; she works with the people on the Haitian border. Her little church takes care of the poorest people of the Dominican Republic. These people live in shacks that are made from sliced trees. There is no running water, but electric lines do run through some of the community. We stayed in an apartment owned by the diocese. We had no electricity for two days and had to live as the people did. To wash they go down to the river…The water is full of parasites that can kill you. Folks have to boil water on fires to kill these germs. Electric stoves don’t exist. I saw homes made of sticks or grass and lean-to’s. Transportation was on foot or by donkey. (The villagers) grow coffee and transport it into the main towns by donkey. There are some cars driven by the wealthy, but even those people do not have safe water. Roads don’t exist there except in the main towns. The roads are carved up the mountains by the government and are made of crushed limestone. They are full of rocks and ruts, falling boulders, and are terrible to climb. Needless to say our missionaries go through a lot of tires trying to reach all of these little villages! I visited a village with Sr. Jane. These folks came out to see her in the pouring rain. The entire village met on a dirt floor with no walls and a grass roof over our heads. They started by praying the rosary – everyone, including the children, prayed and sang. It was a moving experience of faith, and love of God and Mary..."
Missionaries live and work among the people they serve. They become the poor to experience Christ. While we all can’t do this, as Blessed Mother Teresa said, "You can do what I can't do. I can do what you can't do. Together we can do something beautiful for God". Today, please say a prayer for our missionaries all over the world. Be with them in solidarity as they feed the hungry, and support them in their vocation of love. Missionaries truly live out St. Anthony’s words to the fullest!
St. Anthony, pray for us!