Sunday, November 23, 2014

Our Lords the Poor

 "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me....Amen,I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me." ~from Matthew 25:31-46

"There are some people whom God takes and sets apart.  There are others he leaves among the crowds, people he does not "withdraw from the world."  These are the people who have an ordinary job, an ordinary household, or an ordinary celibacy.  People with ordinary sicknesses, and ordinary times of grieving.  People with an ordinary house, and ordinary clothes.  These are the people of ordinary life.  The people we might meet on any street.  They love the door that opens onto the street, just as their brothers and sisters who are hidden from the world love the door that shuts behind them forever.  We, the ordinary people of the streets, believe with all our might that this street, this world, where God has placed us, is our place of holiness.  We believe that we lack nothing that we need.  If we needed something else, God would have given it to us."  ~Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel

Samantha Vosters and Shannon Seegers  (Photo Credit:  Tom Klind)
My family and I are blessed with the friendship of a lovely young woman, vibrant and joyful, who has committed her life to serving the poor, working at our parish's Riverwest Food Pantry.  On the Feast of Christ the King, Samantha Vosters made a personal vow of poverty, chastity and obedience giving her heart completely to Jesus and the Church as a laywoman, modeling her life after Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel, a Frenchwoman who was also committed to serving Christ through the poor.

During Mass at St. Casimir Church, concelebrated by three priests with a standing room only crowd, Samantha vowed to remain poor and pure and to follow God's will in her life as she gives herself more completely to serving the poor.  Those in attendance included not only Sam's family and close friends, but also all of those in the parish and community whom Sam serves in her work.  The love that the congregation has for Sam, and the admiration that they feel for the good that she does, was palpable.

photo credit:  Tom Klind

In his homily, the priest, a personal and long-time friend of Sam's, was visibly choked up as he shared the story of how, when he first came to know Sam, he felt that she was simply a happy and joyful person, full of laughter and smiles, and he didn't see much beyond her good-natured personality.  But when he came to see her heart, he knew that she was someone truly special with a deep love for the Lord and a desire to give her all to Him.  I was moved to tears by the priest's emotion.

But it was during the offertory that I really became emotional.  It's the custom at our parish for members of the congregation to come forward bringing gifts, both food and financial donations, leaving them at the foot of the altar for the poor within our community.  As people were moving forward, I noticed an elderly woman walking very slowly and deliberately, not to the altar with a gift, but to where Sam was sitting with her parents.  Sam turned to the woman, grinned her huge smile, and stood up to embrace the woman.  They held each other long before the woman finally released her hold and shuffled slowly to the back of the church and out the door.  It was a deeply touching and beautiful scene, evidence of the kind of love that Sam so freely gives and receives day in and day out in her life devoted to giving to the poor.  And I knew that it wasn't just any elderly woman embracing Sam, but it was Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor, giving love and gratitude for a saintly young woman who has already, and will continue, to give her life for her brothers and sisters in need.

"The poor are not only brothers and sisters to be loved in a brotherly way because they are our brothers and sisters, they are also "our lords the poor" because the poor man is Our Lord.  He is the sacrament of our encounter with Christ, of our love given to Christ."  
~Servant of God, Madeleine Delbrel


  1. This is so beautiful: the example of this amazing young woman and the words of truth you so wonderfully expressed in serving our Lord in the poor, in all His distressing disguises. What a Mass you were blessed to participate. And the old woman's love...Many blessings for a devoted sister in Christ and for you too Anne. Thank you.

  2. Oh Anne, this is so beautiful! How uplifting to realize that saints walk among us, hidden in their "ordinary" lives. Samantha's joy is radiant! May Our Lord continue to bless her and lead her to the heights! Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.