Rich and poor have a common bond:
the Lord is the maker of them all.
Is this a pleasant platitude or a source of rich meaning? In the way people live their lives, the rich have the means and often the desire to live in such a way that they don’t personally encounter the poor, while the poor encounter the rich primarily in the role of service provider. This is not a foundation on which any sense of common bond could be forged.
This proverb reminds me of a section of Caritas in Veritate that I read with my class this week. In Chapter 5, on the Cooperation of the Human Family, Pope Benedict wrote:
“One of the deepest forms of poverty that a person can experience is isolation. If we look closely at other kinds of poverty, including the material forms, we see that they are born from isolation, from not being loved or from difficulties in being able to love. … The development of peoples depends … on a recognition that the human race is a single family … not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side.” (¶53)
He goes on to develop the theme – that human beings can only reach the fullness of their humanity in relationship with other people. We are designed to be social: not dissolved into amorphous community, but nurtured by the community that values each person. This inclusion-in-relation flows out from our relationship with God.
We may try to reduce this common bond to a platitude, but – say both Benedict and the proverbs – in doing so even the rich will find themselves impoverished.
The kindly man will beblessed,
for he gives his sustenance to the poor.