What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. (Saint Augustine)
Before the summer break we had begun to see some of the responses of Bishop Eugene to the new faces of the poor in his Marseilles diocese. Ten years after his appointment he looked back in a Pastoral Letter to his diocese about the works of mercy that were active in his diocese. It shows an amazing grasp of the human needs of the second largest city of France, and of this Missionary Oblate’s response:
Marvel at how these good works are multiplying. So many new institutions with a previously unknown objectives! Childhood, old age, sickness, poverty, the worker who toils all day long, innocence in danger, the repugnant vice that inspires remorse, the imprisoned youth already initiated in the habits that make criminals, the great culprit seasoned in crime, even the rich man often so destitute before God on his deathbed.
Charity embraces everything; and for new needs, it invents, when necessary, new means: spiritual help, bodily help, bread for the soul, bread for the body; instruction for ignorance; advice, guidance, support for weakness; asylum for virtue or for penance; pious sentiments, sweet consolations, supernatural strength for the dying; All kinds of good works are being generated in the name of Jesus Christ.
Without speaking of the zeal and generosity of those pious associations of ladies who support our charitable establishments in our city of Marseilles, where they are distinguished by such a perfect spirit and by all the virtues of the Christian woman…
Bishop Eugene de Mazenod, Pastoral Letter of 7 February 1847, Marseilles
Do I recognize the face of Jesus Christ crying out in the many faces of the poor I encounter?