Do I have to serve the needs of the poor as a Catholic?

In a word, yes. Our whole moral law rests on the great commandment given to us by Jesus: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. … You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:36-40). It is difficult to imagine truly loving our neighbors without attention to their needs, especially if they are poor. And one of the most beautiful and challenging implications of Christianity is that everyone is our neighbor. Just because someone looks different or lives on the other side of the world doesn’t mean that he or she is not my brother or sister. I still have a responsibility to any fellow human being in need.

That can be a daunting responsibility, and the way that you are able to serve will depend on your own resources and circumstances. Maybe you can volunteer with an organization that helps the poor in your community; maybe you can dedicate time in prayer; maybe you can donate money to help those in need. No matter who you are, you have something to give, and as a Catholic you have an obligation to give it.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.


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