Jesus GOD!… Does it have to be like this?

hungerI cannot stand the UN.  The UN should go.

That said…  for the love of God.

I caught this, and this photo, in a CNN story. 

The UN can give us some stats, but their solutions are not the right solutions.

Why should such a thing be going on today.

Can you recite the corporal works of mercy?

When I am in Rome, with that collar on, I am the incessant target of beggars.  I give, in a measured way, what I can.  You learn.

When I go to NYC, at least when I am walking around on my own, I am the incessant target of beggars. 

I am proud of the friends I hang with.  They give before I do. 

I got off the subway the night before last and a guy hit me for money.  I went about 30 feet and went back saying I would buy him some food and, when he said yes, I went straight into the nearest food place.   He grabbed me by the sleeve suggesting a nearby Subway.  He explained that less bought more.  I placed the order.  He got the food and left.  I placed the same order once more and gave him the bag when I walked by him again at his spot.  He was already sharing his sandwich with another guy.  We have to pass it along.  We help others.

But… Jesus God! …  Jesus said that we would always have with us the poor.

Does it have to be this sort of poor?  That photo just breaks me heart.

The mystery of suffering is terrible.  It is always with us.

The Exaltation of the Cross is the only answer. 

The Cross of Jesus is the only way to cope with this.

We remove the Holy Cross of the Lord from our worship at our peril.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. AnAmericanMother says:

    Poor little lamb!

    Prayers, and works. I’ll remember what you said.

  2. capchoirgirl says:

    Oh, that’s just heartbreaking.
    Ditto, Fr. Z and AAM: Prayer and works.

  3. kab63 says:

    “The mystery of suffering is terrible.” Father, many profundities are contained in that sentence. In the movie “Master and Commander” Aubrey refers to his ship as “our little wooden world.” We do our best for our little wooden world and pray like crazy for the rest of creation.

  4. yatzer says:

    I feel I should say something, but can’t think of any words for this.

  5. Amy MEV says:

    I recently wrote a paper on the connection between receiving Holy Communion and charity towards the poor, according to the writings of our Holy Father. The Pope makes it very clear that it is a SCANDAL to receive the Body of Christ and not help the needy. I HIGHLY recommend my fellow Catholics to read his writings in this regard. They will open your eyes.

  6. ckdexterhaven says:

    That poor precious child. And millions of others. Think of the mother’s pain in not being able to provide for her precious one. We take so much for granted. If one of my children has a fever, I can give him some water, and maybe some Advil so they can rest.

    I will pray.

  7. kab63 “our little wooden world.”

    Which it’s a great insight, ain’t it?

  8. lucy says:

    This is indeed horrible. In my 10 years of NICU nursing, I’ve seen a lot, but nothing like this, since I was in this country.

    All I can say is, shame on the gov’ts that allow all the food we send overseas to rot in bins while they starve their people. Right here in our Great Central Valley we grow enough food to feed the world (that is until the fed turns off our water). It’s gov’ts that starve their people. That’s the big sin.

    Poor little baby.

  9. lucy: I did time as a hospital chaplain where there was a NICU. Ditto you.

  10. Rose in NE says:

    Dear Lord, help me to remember this photo when I start to complain about the little irritations in my life.

  11. The poorest of the poor; the absolutely destitute with no one to be their advocates…simply heartbreaking.
    Blessed Mother Teresa and her Sisters dealt/deal with this every single day; only by prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament, Holy Mass, Holy Communion and their religious vows.
    The utter poverty of many in this world is just absolutely unbelievable; how can we, with all of our wealth and largess allow this to happen? Our little monastic community lives on so very little; the insurance bill here is enough to knock your socks off; the grocery bills, as well.
    How do the poor manage?
    I guess they don’t…or without some very great assistance.
    Why does it have to be like this? What is going on here?
    I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse as time goes on.
    My one consolation: we are. eventually in God’s grace, going to a place where there are no more tears, sorrows, pain, separations; but in this life, we have to do all we can to comfort the “suffering Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor”.

  12. Girgadis says:

    In one of her counsels to her Third Order Missionaries of Charity, Blessed Mother Teresa told of one evening when a man beckoned her to help a Hindu family that had not eaten in a very long time. Mother said she took some rice and went directly, and immediately, she could see that the children were starving. The mother took the rice and divided it in half and left for a bit. When she came back Mother asked her where she’d been. ” They are hungry also” was all she said. The family next door, a Muslim family, had also gone without food for a long time. Mother Teresa said she did not bring them any more rice that day because she wanted them to experience “the joy of giving”. What touched Mother most wasn’t that the mother gave the rice away but that she even knew, out of the depths of her own suffering, that the other family was also hungry.

    I don’t think we have the first clue in this country what abject poverty really is. Thank you for that painful but necessary reminder of just how good we have it and how much we are compelled to help in any way we can those who suffer. Give,until it hurts.(though I am not suggesting handing out change to every beggar that asks. What you did, Father, is the most merciful way to handle the situation you encountered).

  13. Athelstan says:

    In fairness, as Peter Gill’s new book FAMINE AND FOREIGNERS: ETHIOPIA SINCE LIVE AID vividly illustrates, most of the starvation we see now is not the result of natural events, or even UN corruption, but – the cruelty and rapacity of these societies’ own governments. This is a new (20th century) phenomenon, in that famines were traditionally the result of natural disasters.

    This doesn’t make these events less tragic – actually, more so. Noe does it excuse the often worse than useless efforts of the UN. Nor does it excuse us as Christians from exercising charity toward the poor, here and abroad. It only makes clear to us the obstacles that lie in the way of extending help to these regions.

  14. Mrs McG says:

    Ditto what Rose from NE said. To whom much is given, much is required. God give me the grace to do according to how much I’ve been blessed; I’ve not been doing it.

  15. I’m afraid with this present Administration and the ensuing “legislation”..the unborn will be killed, the poor will be further enslaved, the middle-class will be taxed beyond their means,…
    Jesus. Mercy. Exactly correct, Fr. Z.
    We are headed for an untold catastrophe…my only consolation is that Jesus is the Lord, His Church is the One He founded, and that God “hears the cry of the poor”.

  16. Jon says:


    Twenty years ago I worked in Manhattan. Every day for a year, a bone thin black woman sat in the subway station on 53rd and 5th. As the months went by, I saw her belly begin to grow. Over nine months she grew larger and larger. Then one day she disappeared. Three days later, she was back. She was there morning, noon, and evening. I never saw a child. I’ve always been haunted by that, and prayed for them both ever since.

    After that, another story, a bit lighter:

    I was once visiting a friend in Cork, Ireland. This was before the Celtic Tiger roared, and like your collar, as I walked the streets, if a child caught my American accent they would dance around with freckled faces and hands out singing “A pence! A pence! A pence!” Then, one evening I was crossing a bridge over the river, and saw an extremely disheveled old man sitting with a cup. I reached into my pocket, pulled out a 50P piece, and dropped it in. The man immediately pulled it out, held it up scowling and said, “An’ how am I supposed to buy me a jar wi’ this?”

    “Well, you’re not supposed to buy a jar with that” I replied.

    “Ah typical,” he said, looking down and dropping the coin back into the cup. “A skinflint of a Yank!”

  17. MikeM says:

    It’s sad. I study economics and international affairs, looking at economic development as a theory, or a chart, or an equation. Every once in a while, I get a reminder of what it’s really about. It kinda makes me want to cry.

  18. Jon: So absolutely horrid.
    And yet, the comfort of a drop of the whiskey to that old man could have meant more than anything.
    So very sad and horrid that the poor, in whatever way, are gettin’ poorer. And we, as well, I’m afraid.

  19. Jason says:

    lucy and Athelstan are correct above. The good earth upon which these souls live could give up a bounty that would feed all, just like it does here. It doesn’t do so because of corrupt government and hunger for power. This sad picture is testimony to man’s inhumanity to man.

    I assume this is in Africa where the true faith is growing. Christ through His Church can change hearts and hopefully lay the ground work for a shift in culture that will serve to oppose those who have a stranglehold on power there and use any aid and monies to simply serve their own regimes rather than their people. That kind of thing has been going on for as long as I can remember.

    Prayers to Our Lady for Her children.

  20. pfreddys says:

    Um, if I can be practical here: allways look at the beggars shoes…if his(hers) shoes are better than mine I keep walking, if I give I always ask them to pray for me.

  21. The fact that most of the world has to abide by insane dictatorships that do not provide adequately for their populations; that politics and eugenics (from our country, alas) make the deprivation sometimes even greater; that we are able, yes, to provide adequate nourishment for the populations that exist (but due to politics, eugenics, whatever) they do not receive the proper supply of food, medicines, etc.
    THIS is the scandal. Our earth is absolutely adequate to provide for the populations…governments who have “agendas”, esp. eugenics, abortion, what-have-you, are calling the shots.
    We can feed the people of this planet.
    Governments, esp. those tainted with the modernistic Western ‘philosophy’ of “zero population”, are calling the shots.
    Sound paranoid?
    I don’t think so.
    Read the literature available on this…we’re headed for global destruction…and it’s not because of having too many babies; Obama is heading the procession to further destruction of the American economic system; he’s just a ploy…you just wait and see.
    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

  22. mitch_wa says:

    Lord have mercy… I work in a homeless shelter and see crazy things but my clients live in the lap of luxury compared to this poor child…

  23. The influence of the USA upon population “control”, viz. eugenics: artificial birth control, sterilization, abortion and even infanticide is alarming…this starving child is even lucky to have come out of the womb; tax dollars are being spent to abort children, sterilize women, offer condoms rather than treat the deadly infections and diseases that could be alleviated by the stockpiles of antibiotics and other treatments.
    If you’re poor and in a Third World nation (or Fourth World, for that matter) you’re just a “problem”…something to solve by eugenics, starvation, etc.
    It’s just ghastly, horrid and inhumane.
    And, I’m sorry to say, it has no political boundaries…Democratic or Republican are responsible for this absolute outrage.
    It is an abominable sin; the Holy Father has addressed this many times; the Holy See, in its diplomatic and other channels has attempted to deal with this.
    There is more to mortal sin than the sixth commandment; the absolute disregard of human life, liberty and rights is endemic, I’m afraid.
    Children, the infirm, the handicapped and the elderly are going to continue to die because of the lack of care (which could be available to them) because of the moneys and time and effort spent upon this demonic attempt to contracept, abort, and prevent new life through the use of condoms, artificial birth control (which is toxic, in and of itself) and sterilization).
    Welcome to the New World, folks.
    It’s more frightening and deadly than any fictional author could have written.
    And we live here, right now. Holy Mary, pray for us!

  24. shadowlands says:

    For some reason, I can’t see the picture, it won’t load.
    I am trying to surrender the area in my heart that likes to own and control. I am not rich, by the world’s standards, but my heart still plays the same games as rich men. I might keep back the best in an article of clothing, and give away the stuff I deem as useless. If I put on weight, I store my nicer clothes. I’ve just bagged up a few items and the pull to hang on to them, is there with the desire to donate them. There is a miser lurking alongside the ‘generous’ charity giver. Will I always be two people? I’d rather get this part of my character cleaned up, this side of the grave. I am grateful for warmth and shelter and food, yet at the same time, often frightened of losing it. It makes my prayers for the poor look absolutely ridiculous.I also experience envy sometimes if people take their religious education for granted, and their knowledge.
    I think I am going to have to start acting against my own inclinations, but I sense a whole heap of defects about to be uncovered.
    I’m a bit of a mess, when I come to think of it.
    I’m half way through chapter two of the Mass in Slow Motion. He’s quite humorous, Msgr Knox, when you get to know him.

  25. Joan M says:

    Words fail me. My heart feel like it is being squeezed and twisted. That poor, poor baby and his mother.

  26. Liz F says:

    My daughter and I went to Ethiopia to pick up our two children (3 years ago) and it was unbelievable. It was such a beautiful place with such beautiful vegetation. It seemed like it had lots of natural resources which could help it sustain itself, but the people were dying all over instead. It was hard to watch. We would try to help people, but it wasn’t very easy. We were scolded for giving our food to a mother and baby while riding in our van. The problem was that people got killed from other drivers who weren’t careful. (The traffic and driving are unbelievable there.) I watched boys with money they begged from Westerners take it back to men who confiscated it. The boys who begged outside of restaurants and shops were whipped by the owners. Later we found out that these people were the well off ones. We visited the Sisters of Charity Home for the Destitute and Dying and it was aptly named. Oh my. The people had growths and skin diseases and things we just don’t see in our country these days. It was hard to stomach. Yet the people in Ethiopia were so happy and beautiful. We were so touched by the people in the Sisters of Charity Home. (Obviously the loving sisters were amazing!) The patients would struggle up in their beds to grin and wave to us! Small children excitedly ran up to see us. I find myself sometimes wishing for some of what they had. It’s hard to believe that I would say that, and my adopted daughter from there says she would rather be here than there, but those people were not burdened by so much stuff like we are. Obviously, starving to death is not good and I wouldn’t want it for my family or anything close to it, but sometimes I wonder about us in this country. We just bought (on Craigslist) another freezer. We have a large family, but all of this STUFF gets a little ridiculous. I wonder if I wasn’t so focused on it would I be more focused on God? Anyway, pictures like that are a reminder that we have so much and we must do more to help. (shadowlands, I can totally relate. I worry about economic collaspe and I find myself doing some of the same things. Hmmm…)

  27. chcrix says:

    Another ++ for what Athelstan said.

    Nazareth Priest:

    I’d say you are 90+% correct, except….

    states don’t “provide” anything to their populations. The very best they can manage is an orderly and free environment in which people can function. Anything they provide is just something that was taken from others. In Africa, many of them are simply armed gangs, different only in theory from the Somali pirates. Actually, I think I prefer the pirates – barefaced criminals who make no bones about it.

    Other than that, as the writer Jerry Pournelle once said, they are good at two activities: killing people and breaking things.

  28. Lisa says:

    I’m sitting here rocking my 10 lb, 4 week old baby…I cannot even imagine the pain of this child, and of a mother who is unable to care for her baby.
    Lord have mercy.

  29. Shadow says:


    You are extremely accurate in what you are saying and it is only going to get worse. Many people, unfortunately most in power, have forgotten completely what it means to have a heart.

  30. doanli says:


    How do we explain to atheists and agnostics that there is a God when there is suffering like this? I cannot explain it, I don’t know how.

  31. GrogSmash says:

    May God have mercy on us for allowing this to happen. What a wake-up call. I will be showing this to my children tonight… as I just typed that sentence, I realized that shortly after I show this to them, we will be sitting down to eat our dinner. Hmmmm…

  32. Dear Lord, have mercy! Suddenly all the problems in my life put together seem totally insignificant. I think I will be offering a fast today.

    I’m sure it goes without saying, but most of the online comments to that article are absolutely monstrous. Most of them can be summed up as: “Those people have too many children. They’re stupid. They deserve to die.”

    Lord have mercy! I will be fasting as much for those people as for the victims.

  33. Dubya Ay-See says:

    I was at an investiture for a papal order of knighthood a few years ago. At the conclusion, the beggars who haunt the steps of the cathedral started to approach the exiting knights and dames, most of whom are people of means. One dame, who probably didn’t spend a lot of time downtown, violently shewed a begged away. Of all the days to give alms! What an example! I kept think of the admonition, “When you have done these things to the least of my brethren . . .”. Since then, I can’t refuse a panhandler whatever I can spare, if for no other reason than the fear that I might be refusing help to Christ Himself.

  34. JosephMary says:

    I think the U.N. response is to send condoms…

    That said, many in this country, even homeless are incredibly more taken care of than these poor and starving in other countries. At the soup kitchen/outreach where I volunteered for some years, a feast was put on every noon. We would feed about 200. There was a day center for a free breakfast. There was a clothing room with free clothes. Then a housing unit was built. Even folks on welfare have TVs , cell phones, cars and food stamps in this country.

    And it is not necessarily charity to give to those who fly signs and use the money for drugs and booze. I used to carry small grocery store gift cards to give out when I knew I was going somewhere where the beggers would be at me. Those things are used for food.

  35. Jason Keener says:

    I think we should always have this passage of Scripture before us:

    “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

    Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.’

    Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit You?’

    The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

    Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me.’

    They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.'”

    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    (Matthew 25:31-46)

  36. Ralph says:

    Imagine the heart break of the poor mother unable to keep her little baby alive.

    As a father of five, this photo will haunt me.

    Kyrie, eleison!

  37. teaguytom says:

    What is so sad is if you weren’t looking carefully, you would think the child had passed away. It literally looks like a living corpse. :(

  38. Microtouch says:

    What makes this harder to bear is the fact that the UN will take our donations and squander it on their own lavish lifestyle while this poor creature of God is left wanting. They suffer for our sins. God Bless them.

  39. wanda says:

    My Jesus, mercy.

    (Donations better given to Catholic Relief Services.)

  40. AJP says:

    thanks for posting this Fr. Z. I have to pay and mail some bills today anyhow – I will also send out a check to Food for the Poor.

    HeatherBarrett, I don’t know if you knew this or if this is just a “coincidence” but you spoke of offering a fast today – today is the first day of the autumn ember days, traditionally a fast day.

    as many others have remarked, pictures like this really drive home the difference between poverty in the 3rd world and poverty in the US and other developed countries. I don’t judge folks who refuse to give cash to panhandlers in America harshly. Sad to say, drug and alcohol abuse is extremely common among America’s homeless, and you don’t want to contribute towards that in any way. But if you’re able to, offer to buy some food for the beggar, or donate food, money, or volunteer time to your local food pantry, shelter, etc.

    One last comment about the poor baby in the photo – notice how he/she has what looks to be some sort of IV port on the head. I’m hoping this means the photo was taken after the baby started to receive some sort of medical attention. Perhaps the baby is doing better now . . . . one has to have hope.

  41. GregH says:

    As great as this tragedy it is…it is nothing compared to the millions of walking dead in the US who are not in the state of grace and are headed on their way to hell. Pray, fast, live an intense interior life and u will be doing as much as u can.

  42. Agnes says:

    What enrages me the most is the response of some in the Church who would “shoo away” those in need. Call the cops – there’s a black woman with hungry children pan-handling after Mass! Get them away quick before the contributors see!

    Is an inner-city parish meant to be a bubble of piety, a country club set amid tumble-down homes? A lovely white-washed tomb? God have mercy. Good Jesus, you sent Mother Teresa to show us a proper response to the poor. You died for us, teach us to live for others.
    Sins of omission have deadly, deadly results.

  43. Shadow says:

    1) @GregH: Amen to that!

    2) Don’t get me wrong, I’m American. But if every single person in this country had to try and give, to others who really needed it, what they would normally spend on stupid consumeristic gadgets that they do NOT really need, we would not have any poor in this country either.

    Sorry for my bluntness but I guess I am at my limit, now, of hearing the regular ‘suburban’ excuses for not doing anything other than proferring words of sympathy – if even that!

  44. rakesvines says:

    I don’t know what to say except, “Blessed are poor for theirs is the reign of God.” And the thoughts that come are, “Think globally, act locally.” Even the Lord did not become a bread machine but He taught the folks to seek Him instead. As a priest, you are able to feed more through you ministry because the spiritual nourishment that you give others make them perform corporal acts of mercy. Back in the 70s, it is very common for priests to become liberation theologians and fight for earthly peace and justice when faced by realities like this. Looking back, it is those priests who stayed true to their pastoral service that ended doing more good.

  45. Andrew says:


    “How do we explain to atheists and agnostics that there is a God when there is suffering like this? I cannot explain it, I don’t know how.”

    By pointing to the One Who rose from the dead. It is arrogance on our part trying to limit God’s power to that which is visible to our eyes and comprehensible to our minds. Shortly we’ll all be dead. If we want to discount what comes afterwards, there’s no point talking about anything.

  46. Girgadis says:


    How do we explain to atheists and agnostics that there is a God when there is suffering like this? I cannot explain it, I don’t know how.

    Comment by doanli

    doanli, the way I would answer that is to tell them to take a good look at the manger and the crucifix. The Redeemer was born in a dirty stable and buried in a donated tomb. There is almost no human condition the Our Lord was not made to suffer on Calvary.

  47. cmm says:

    Doanli: it’s a mystery to me too. But a lot of suffering results, not just from accidental events, but by a combination of that with human faults. We can try to be Christ on earth and help alleviate some of that suffering. If we all did that all the time, the horror of this photo would not exist. How can God let that be? He does not — he is pushing us to take action.
    That’s his way of caring. His means of action is through us.

    Also, as Girgadis hinted, I believe that He is sharing in the suffering, with that child. (“We know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”)

  48. Elly says:

    What is the best charity to donate to?

  49. Supertradmum says:

    We feed our pets better food and more than what this baby obviously did not get. We are responsible for each other. As to good charities, I recommend Aid to the Church in Need and CFCA, which manages to give 94% of its donations to the people who need the money.

  50. Leonius says:

    And meanwhile the directors of the secular “charities” and the staff of the UN are collecting six figure salaries getting rich from the suffering of others and the kind hearted people who want to help alleviate it. The secularists like to attack the Vatican saying how they should sell the contents of the Vatican museum etc. but no one ever seems to ask how much more could be done for the poor if the UN didn’t pay its staff a fortune and spend a billions on huge modern office complexs.

    How much good could the $1.876 billion. been spent on the renovation of the UN headquarters have done?

    Give to “Aid to the Church in Need” and support the missions that way all your money goes to the people who need it instead of been creamed off into the pockets of charity fat cats.

  51. Sherrytex says:

    We must see Christ in His distressing disquise and so often, we are so busy in our own lives that we do not. Over the years, I devised a saying, “If this is the best there is, then man are we in trouble.” We have. We have much. We squander what we have and do not see. We should hope that purgatory will be very crowded with all of us; and if we can, today, we should give something up, in prayer and sacrifice, in hopes that that little one, is able to be given something more than scraps to eat.

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