The world’s suffering little ones – don’t forget them this Christmas

Imagine hearing a knock at your front door. As you open the door, to your great surprise you see a baby lying in front of you. Without hesitation, you immediately pick up the infant and bring her out of the cold night and into the warmth of your home and heart.

As a good decent human being, as a follower of Jesus who loved the poor and vulnerable so dearly, you surely would not close your door on this helpless child. And neither would I.

Then how is it that we often do not open our hearts as wide as possible to the little ones in our world who are orphaned, impoverished, cold, hungry, sick, homeless, war-torn and unborn?

I think our hearts are often not wide open because the little ones are not on our doorsteps. You know, out of sight, out of mind.

Well let’s change that. Let’s bring the little ones into our field of vision.

Educating ourselves on the plight of babies and young children is an essential way to keep them in mind and thus inspire us into action.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15,000 children under five-years-of-age die every day largely due to the easily preventable diseases of pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and preterm birth complications and birth asphyxia. Undernutrition is a major contributor to these deaths.

 Increased investment by the U.S. and other wealthy nations in relatively low-cost vaccines, medicines, insecticide treated bed nets, breast-feeding education, adequate nutrition , as well as pre-natal/child-delivery/post-natal care would prevent most of the at risk babies and under five-year-olds from dying.

Yet, the U.S. provides less than 1 percent of its budget for all poverty-focused international aid. That is shameful.

And the U.S. itself has a higher infant mortality rate than 27 other wealthy nations.

Please contact your congressional delegation today (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) urging a robust increase in both domestic and international funding for child poverty-focused needs like those listed above. And urge them to stop funding war and war-fueling weapons which are being used in the killing of hundreds of thousands of children every year.

One of the poorest places on earth for little ones is South Sudan. Civil war and drought have placed nearly 6 million people on the brink of starvation.

An outstandingly selfless Catholic organization there is the Sudan Relief Fund which supports two orphanages and operates Mother of Mercy Hospital in the remote Nuba Mountains – the only trauma center within a 300-mile radius – where American Catholic missionary, Dr. Tom Catena, the hospital’s sole physician and surgeon, tirelessly treats 400 patients a day.

Please consider making a generous Christmas gift to this very worthy Catholic organization by going to www.sudanreliefund.com/current-needs and www.sudanreliefund.com/sudan-landings/orphans.

And let us not forget to stand up for the little ones journeying to be born, but sadly never see the light of day due to the brutality of abortion.

In the U.S. over 900,000 unborn babies are killed every year. And worldwide approximately 56 million babies are aborted.

Please contact your state Catholic Conference to receive their legislative action alerts, and kindly consider making a Christmas donation to your local pregnancy center.

During Mass on the second Sunday of Advent, resting in the pew in front of me was a tiny newborn baby. As I looked at how miraculously he was made, I then focused on the nativity scene in the sanctuary and could clearly imagine the baby Jesus lying in the manger. And I thought about how wonderful it is that the Almighty chose to come to us as an innocent, gentle, vulnerable, lovable baby to give us an invaluable glimpse into the person of God and the way to peace on earth.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.  He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan and parish gatherings from Santa Clara, Calif. to Baltimore, Md. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

 


BONUS COLUMN

Catholic Church’s First World Day of the Poor

When was the last time you shared a meal with a poor person? For Pope Francis it was just a couple of weeks ago.

On Nov. 19, the Holy Father celebrating the first World Day of the Poor broke bread with not only one poor person, but with some 1,200 poor brothers and sisters . And in doing so he gave us a humble example of what being in solidarity with the poor looks like.

In the homily during the Mass  which preceded his meal with the poor, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ parable concerning the talents given to three servants in Matthew’s Gospel .

Now while talents in the New Testament refer to large monetary units, the church has traditionally expanded the meaning of talents to refer to all of the generous gifts God has given each of us.

A central meaning of the parable is that each of us is expected by God to seriously use and develop the gifts he has given us in the ways that please him.

How Can We Please God?

So the Holy Father asked “How, in practice can we please God?” He said, “When we want to offer something to the Lord, we can find his tastes in the Gospel.” Citing the last judgment scene, he pointed out that God is most pleased when we tirelessly serve our poor and vulnerable brothers and sisters – “the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned, the suffering who receive no help, the needy who are cast aside.”

The pope reminded us of the Master’s strong rebuke of the servant who did not use his talents to bear fruit, but only gave back what he received. The pontiff said that the servant’s evil was that of failing to do good. Here he warns us to attentively avoid the serious sin of omission and indifference towards the poor.

“All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. But in this way we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong. … But to do no wrong is not enough.”

Using our Gifts

What are we doing with the talents God has given us? Are we steadfastly developing our gifts for the greater glory of God by generously and justly using them in tireless service to our needy brothers and sisters near and far?

And are we insisting that our regional and national representatives in government use the financial gifts we have entrusted them with – namely our taxes – to adequately serve each and every poor and vulnerable human being?

Although 300 million children go to bed hungry every night according to the U.N. Children’s Fund, the U.S. Congress allocates only less than 1 percent of the federal budget for poverty-reduction aid. That is shameful.

Persistently lobbying our legislators to provide much more of our tax money towards ending hunger and poverty is one essential way to faithfully use our talents.

And how can we more effectively use the collective talents in our parishes to meet the immediate needs of the poor, and attack the root-causes of poverty?

Pope Francis wisely urged us to “not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others. … What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan and parish gatherings from Santa Clara, Calif. to Baltimore, Md. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

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