‘Like it or not, we must be good to the poor, because if we’re not, we’re going to hell.”
That’s a quote I’ve heard a few times now from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia. It happens to be one of my all-time favorites. Because there is no hiding from it. It prompts an instant examination of conscience. What am I doing to help? What have I done today? What have I done for the man right in front of me, and for a woman who is suffering a world away? What more can I do?
While getting the attention of the world with welcoming gestures, Pope Francis is also this blunt. Time and again he turns attention to indifference. He did this perhaps most dramatically in his visit to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa his first summer as pope. First he talked about a man “half dead by the roadside,” whom we might glance at and think “poor guy,” as we “continue on our way.” He warned against living in “soap bubbles,” separating ourselves from others and their plights.