Ending Poverty with Truth

Pope Francis recently gave a talk to the diplomatic corps in which he said:
"As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just. But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism”, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth." [my emphasis]
I see a lot of people fighting against material poverty, and that is certainly important, but we cannot ignore spiritual poverty.  Really, that is the bigger problem, the greater evil, the worse deprivation.  As Christians we need to do both the corporal and the spiritual works of mercy.  Doing the corporal works of mercy is easier, more rewarding, and a source of prestige.  Feeding, clothing, healing; they are all things that people like to see others doing.  The spiritual works of mercy, on the other hand, have few benefits (on earth); it's tough to forgive, to admonish, to pray.  There aren't many people handing you Nobel prizes for praying or confronting people about their sins...  

It's unfortunate, but people don't always search for the truth these days - the "dictatorship of relativism" as said by Pope Benedict Emeritus is a big problem in our world.  Is there objective, always-true, truth?  Or is the good, the beautiful, the right, the true, just what I want it to be?  Pope Francis is saying that the antidote to poverty, and the precursor to peace, is accepting the truth.

We are coming up on Holy Week and this topic reminds me of Pilate's question to Jesus: "What is truth?" (John 18:38).  Truth, folks, is the person standing before Pilate, Jesus Christ.  His words directly before Pilate's question are "For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." (John 18:37)  That is the mission of the Christian, to hear Christ's voice.  Our world is full of noise and distraction, and especially during Lent we pray, fast, and give alms, to grow closer to God, to hear His voice, to know His truth, and thus, to proclaim it to the world.  Welcome to the Church Militant folks!
Ecce Homo - Behold the Man