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When I try to talk about mercy in the circles I frequent, I always receive the same answer: “Mr. Martell, you have to realize that times have changed. Everything is now done by robots.” What is unfortunate about this answer is that every day we have more and more people without jobs. These are the so-called “dispensable” ones, because they have been rejected by this new model where human beings are replaced by machines whose output is basically the same… but cheaper.

To counter this assertion, in walks Pope Francis with a word that sometimes, and by many, has been forgotten: mercy. This word is for some like an injection that returns them to humanity, because they had actually forgotten to be human. If we were to embrace this word, and better yet put it into practice, I am sure that we could start changing the world. And instead of filling the pockets of a few, lifting many out of poverty.

I know that many don’t like this little word; in fact they fear it. As they strategize ways to earn more, they forget that we are all brothers and sisters, and no one deserves to be singled out for being “too old,” or “he doesn’t understand modern technology,” or “this is a business and not a group to help the poor,” or “our objective is to make money, not to help the needy.” This thinking leads to jobs being reduced or eliminated.

I can cite many examples. We all remember the toll-takers inside those booths in our main highways. Now we pay a machine with our credit cards, or the vehicle is identified and charged via an optical sticker and readout, thus eliminating the human worker. And I ask myself: How many men and women were displaced by this change?

The truth is painful, because all persons are valuable. We all have the same right to work in accordance with our needs and knowledge. Let us think clearly. We need each other. Let us not lose the spirit of service, respect, understanding, tolerance and above all the idea of “drowning the bad with an abundance of the good.”

Let us all fight to eradicate the great whip of poverty. I know that it is not easy and the road is full of obstacles. There are always persons who are looking for a way to become millionaires at the expense of letting others drown in desperation and misery. 

Look at the surveys. Every day, the number of poor people increases. This is alarming. As volunteers in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an entity dedicated to helping those who have little or nothing, we know that the percentage of people we help is an ever-increasing spiral; and sadly, in many instances, we do not have the resources to remedy their situation.

We see the many persons who come to our churches without the basic means of daily sustenance, even the ability to provide food for their children; or those who rely on meager Social Security checks and have to receive food from charitable organizations to meet their basic daily needs.

Let us join together: those of us who have work, or a high economic position, the academicians, and everyone who can help. Because I can tell you something I have learned after volunteering for more than 30 years: The poor help the poor.

Today I ask you to make a difference. Those in a good economic situation, please put one hand in your wallet and the other on your heart and help the needy who are closest to you. All that is needed is to stop judging and look with mercy upon your neighbor who is in trouble. Remember, “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself.”

It is actually easy to do. You do not have to give it all away and follow Christ. I ask only that you give a little of what He has freely given you. Which reminds me of another saying: Let us not lose the desire for eternal life of which the word mercy reminds us.


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