Summary: Divinity hides beneath the offensive demeanor of a poor man or woman.

The poor

Divinity hides beneath the offensive demeanor of a poor man....The poor are the last to suspect it. They grow accustomed to their want and isolation...For God it is better that way. They can assume their disguise secretly, in a concealment unknown to them.

.....A desire for lasting achievement cannot sustain this work [with the poor]. It takes a disinterested and pure love, looking towards nothing beyond the immediacy of actions, to keep a person persevering in service to the poor one singular day after another. But this means above all that the concealed image of Jesus Christ is sought stubbornly, lovingly in this time with the poor.—page. 160

...And yet it is rather easy to look at the derelict poor and consider self-inflicted the scars from alcohol and drugs that mar their faces—easy to harbor disdain for their indecency. But then surely we sometimes miss a lonely man’s eyes looking up in a wish that his face will not provoke this time a glance of revulsion. And perhaps the same look of these eyes was also in the eyes of Jesus as he carried the cross to Calvary.”—page 162

“There is an aspect of faith to which we do not pay sufficient attention. And this is that God may turn a poor man’s face towards us one day to deliver his most earnest request to our lives.”—page 193

The hidden presence of Jesus in the poor invokes a need to conceal ourselves also from our own eyes. This is a necessity for greater love: to disappear inside our actions, unconcerned for self. More intense love in actions demands this spirit of hiddenness. We have an impetus to hiddenness in every encounter with the poor. The concealment of Our Lord in the poor draws a desire to forget ourselves when we are with the poor. We lose thought of self with the poor because the suffering of the poor overcomes thought of self. It is Our Lord, actually, who is drawing us away from self.”—page 164

Source: Contemplative Provocations by the Rev. Donald Haggerty, Ignatius Press, 2013.

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