On August 4, 1964, Jean Vanier, a Canadian philosopher, retired military officer, and a devout Catholic, moved into a house in Trosly, France, with Rafael and Philippe, two men with mental handicaps. This marked the beginning of the L’Arche communities, where volunteer assistants live among people with severe handicaps. In his book, The Broken Body, he wrote,
Christians have always proclaimed
the need to serve the poor,
to do things that will help them
rise out of their misery.
But what we are discovering at l’Arche
is that those who are poor possess a precious gift
and that we must listen to them with deep respect.
They have a gift for others.
We are discovering too
that the life-giving Jesus is hidden in them.
He is truly there.
If you become a friend of the poor,
you become a friend of Jesus.
Today is also the 35th anniversary of the death of Monseñor Enrique Angelleli, bishop of La Rioja, Argentina, in a suspicious car accident. Bishop Angelleli distinguished himself as a defender of the campesinos and as one of the few Argentinian bishops who spoke out against the repression in his country. He once said, “We kill when we take the life out of our country, when we abolish joy, hope and the courage to live.”
God give us all the courage to live and to be friends of the poor.