During Lent, we are encouraged to fast, do penance for sin and to give alms to the poor. It is interesting that the Church would align these three deeds, the third of which seems so separate from the first two. Why is concern for the poor so emphasized during this season? I believe today’s gospel reveals why. We see Jesus transfigured, and his true identity – God made man – shown to all. His disciples for the first time (but not the last!) can clearly see His true nature. Lent is all about us being true to our nature and about our own transfiguration showing what we truly are. And what are we? Truly? We are children of God. We are made in His image and likeness. We are temples of the Holy Spirit; He dwells within us. A young kindergarten child asked me after mass why He couldn’t see God when he came to church on Sunday. I told him that he had already seen Him, all he had to do was to look into his mommy’s eyes. God is on the inside. Our transfiguration discloses the hidden God within. In giving to the poor we bring to light what we truly are. This is our nature. To care for the downtrodden. To lift up the sorrowing. To feed the hungry. To visit the sick and imprisoned. To clothe the naked.
The value of a church is in direct proportion to the care it gives to the poor. So what can we do in Visitation to give alms? This week at all the masses, we will be inviting everyone to participate in creating mercy kits, a bag filled with the essentials that a homeless person would need to help survive life on the streets. The flyer in the bulletin more thoroughly explains what we seek to do and the help that we need. I encourage all of us to participate and allow our true nature to be seen by all.