Silver and Gold I Have None

Do you remember the story of Peter and John in the temple? A cripple comes up and begs for money and Peter replies, “I don’t have silver and gold, but what I do have I will give you– In the name of Jesus of Nazareth rise up and walk.”

In pondering how to help the poor it seems to me that I am helpless. I (and my parish) really do not have the resources to engage in a charity project that could possible meet even a little bit of the enormous need in our community. Oh, yes, we do what we can, but it is so small compared to the great need. So what shall I do?

Then on the drive home from hospital it hit me. I was called out after Mass today to anoint a man who had just had a stroke. I went and anointed him and then later in the afternoon the family asked me to return. He had taken a turn for the worse. “Would I come to say the prayers of commendation at death?”

So I went and it was very emotional and beautiful. A committed Catholic family gathered around the deathbed doing the right thing. Anointing their loved one and handing him over the  heavenly Father. I was able to be there being a priest–doing only what a priest can do.

It was on the way home that the phrase, “Silver and gold I have none” kept echoing through my brain and I realized that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about the poor. I don’t have the resources to help them as I would wish. However, what do I have? I have the same apostolic faith of Peter and James. I can best serve them as a priest.

Most of them aren’t even Catholic, but I can still best serve them as a priest–not as a social worker or a soup kitchen organizer or a career advisor or a housing supervisor. I can work with all the other people who do such a great job helping the poor with material needs, but that is not my job. I can co-operate with those who provide help, and promote their work and motivate my lay people to continue that work. But I can’t do that.

Instead I will serve them as a priest. It’s all I can do. It’s all Peter and John could do.

The Underdog Myth that Hillary Has to Overcome
Pope Francis and Persecution
Standing on My Head in the Top 70
What I Learn From Hearing First Confessions
  • Deacon Dick

    Please let me know when I can help. Thx. God Bless.

  • MTMajor

    We are, indeed, called to do what we can; you should know how much help you do offer through your vocation and your writing. You are a daily inspiration for me. May God bless you Father, and your parish family and community.

  • justamouse

    I often feed utterly overwhelmed at the needs of the poor. I pray, and I do what I can do. I often think about Mother Theresa who worked with the less fortunate every day. The enormity of the task didn't paralyze her. She said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one."

  • Ttony

    You hit on two truths here: not just what to do if you have no gold and silver, but the need to serve God's individual creatures. I think that a lot of the hatred Mother Teresa inspires comes from the fact that she didn't try to smash capitalism or cure cancer: instead she loved the people she came into contact with. Instead of trying to abolish poverty, she served the poor.

  • Deacon Ed

    You are right, Father about discharging your primary role to offer the sacrmaental life to your parishioners. Priests, pasotrs cannot do it all.That is why the Church in her wisdom, from the first days, instituted and laid hands on seven men to serve the Church as deacons. Charity is the iconic role of the deacon for the parish community. Thir role is take leadership in this area under the direction of the pastor.

  • Deacon Bill

    I notice that a couple of my deacon brothers have already commented but I'll add a little bit. Our parish, 450 envelope holders, has had for decades a "Deacon's Fund." It does not raise huge amounts of money but always seems to have enough for the family lacking food, diapers, etc. We have a few policies allowing us to integrate with other charities in the area and we are a little judgmental in that we do not permit fund expenditures for alcohol, tobacco products and a few other items. Another observation: if there is a particular need for support (a particular family has been hit with a crisis and specific call is made upon the parish for assistance the level of donations rises 2 1/2 to 3 times their customary level. People are really responsive. We do what we can which I understand to be the point of your blog article. We do what we can.

  • shadowlands

    Father D. You've got love and faith and a willing heart! A CV fit for employing, not filing, it gets heaven's stamp!God often places up and coming Saints amidst the poor, the rejected, the homeless, the nameless, the addicts, the hobos.Heck, He even placed His only Son with them, so why not us?I think I might have told this story here before, but it's worth retelling, because it's about love.Malcolm Muggeridge asked Mother Theresa why she went to the trouble of taking baby girls out of rubbish tips and placing them side by side, sometimes nine at a time in cots, when at the most they would only live for two weeks. She answered him saying, that for those two weeks on earth, they would know love.Power to the powerless!

  • Father Shelton

    Excellent! Just what I needed to read today. Thank you.

  • K

    A bit more on the Mother Teresa theme … she advocated loving everyone … beginning with the person next to you at the dinner table. I always read that as a sort of "bloom where you are planted" kind of philosophy … my small family is my mission field for the foreseeable time frame … who knows where God will lead me in the future, but it doesn't really matter with regard to what I'm called to do this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Mother Teresa's fame came from her totality of poverty, etc. … but my mission field is just as important … that's how I read what she had to say anyhow. The same applies to anyone called to a "mundane" mission field … i.e. a family or parish ….