Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another Postcard from Antigua

A Jesuit missionary once wrote about experiencing the poor: "First it breaks your heart. Then you fall in love. Then it ruins your life forever."

I heard Dean Brackley S.J.'s words haunting me at dinner the other night.

After weeks of eating the good, but simple meals prepared by our host family, I had a hankering for a steak. So, on a night we're on our own for dinner, my housemates and I all went to one of the nice restaurants in Antigua.

I ordered my 8 ounce steak medium rare. The others ordered delicacies of their own liking off the menu. As I was eating at my table facing an open door, I watched the faces of average Guatemalans peering in at a restaurant filled with only Americans. I realized none of them can afford to eat here. I kinda lost my appetite in the moment.

The average worker in Antigua makes $2,500 quetzales a month or $323 American. Someone doing well is making $10,000 quetzales a month or $1,295 a month in U.S. dollars.

The experience helps me to better understand Jesus' teaching on how hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven. More difficult than a camel threading a needle, right?

No matter our social status in the U.S. we are "rich" by the world's standards.

As a "rich" person in the richest nation on the planet, God commands us to share these blessings with the least of our sisters and brothers to show we are committed to the Kingdom. Whether it's sponsoring a family worlds away or giving regularly to St. Vincent de Paul food banks, these are the things Christ asks of us "to whom much is given."

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