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The concept was great: Give up what you have and save the
poor. As a unified community on equal terms (rather than the rich and the poor)
*you can probably delete what’s in the
brackets, everyone would prosper and share in eternity. Unfortunately, this is not true in today’s world. Walk up to a homeless person on the
streets of New York City and give them money, and they will use it to buy
drugs. Give them shelter and a decent meal, and they will drink all the wine.
Sources will claim that sending aid to impoverished area will just lead to
fighting over who gets it.
Being an ascetic may have made a lot more sense back in Gregory’s time, but now its just senseless. In the current era, giving up all you have and treating the sick and poor will just lead to pain, suffering, and death. In Gregory’s time, humanity was not so “dependant” on the world around them. Gregory says, “Let everyone take care of his neighbors.” (Gregory, 195) As society was communal, people could be saved from poorness/sickness more readily. Now, we live in a world where neighbors don’t even know each other, and good deeds are generally unrecognized and fruitless. Gregory attempts to disperse this idea, urging, “Don’t be afraid. The fruits of merciful acts are abundant. Sow your benefactions and your house will be filled with plentiful harvest.” (Gregory, 195). No matter what angle the concept is observed from, the fact remains; giving to the poor will either be done improperly and go unnoticed. It can even lead to feuds(or worse!).
Gregory is making a lot of assumptions in his writings on the poor. First, he makes it very clear that the poor are all good. In current times, the poor are all generally junkies, streetwalkers, and burnouts. It is understood that this could just be an American (read:large city) environment, but that doesn’t change anything. If someone goes out and attempts to help one of these people, he is putting his life into danger and will just be treated with scorn. God created us to live our own lives and prosper as much as possible. Putting one’s self in harm’s way for a lost cause is just wasting what God has given us. Greggory goes on to compare the sick to an irritation of the body, such as a pimple, questioning, “Does the rest of the body energetically destroy itself? Just the opposite, our healthy parts all at together to resorb the place of the infection…Our healthy skin does not interfere with the healing of the abscess. So why send these unfortunates away from us?”(Gregory, 204) This just strengthens the point of not intervening with the poor/sick. What do most people do if they have a big, ugly pimple? They try to pop it. What does mom say? “Don’t touch it! Leave it alone!” Poking and prodding at the pimple just spreads the infection, or rear it’s head in different ways. If one tries to intervene with the sick, the sick will take it take it the wrong way and ask for more.