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Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Christianity inherited the Jewish verse from Isaiah: Do not “[turn] your back on your own flesh.” The key is to be found in the parable of the Final Judgment, when the king places some people on his right and some on his left…. To those on his right he says: “Come, blessed of my Father, for I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me.” They asked him when it was that he did this and He answers that every time they did so to the least of His kingdom, they did it to Him….

In Christianity, the attitude we must have toward the poor is, in its essence, that of true commitment. And He added something else: this commitment must be person to person, in the flesh. It is not enough to mediate this commitment through institutions, which obviously help because they have a multiplying effect, but that is not enough. They do not excuse us from our obligation of establishing personal contact with the needy. The sick must be cared for, even when we find them repulsive and repugnant. Those in prison must be visited…. It is terribly difficult for me to go to a prison because of the harshness of life there. But I go anyway, because the Lord wants me to be there in the flesh, alongside those in need, in poverty, in pain….

Sometimes things are done in the name of charity that are not charitable; they are like crude caricatures of good intention. There is no charity without love, and if vanity is part of helping the needy, there is no love; it is feigned charity.