The "Undeserving Poor"
That's because children haven't done anything to make themselves one of the "undeserving poor." They haven't made the bad choices that landed them in this mess. They can't be blamed for failing to do what they can to help themselves. They can't help it if they are poor. Poor kids don't make it hard to help the poor. Poor adults who've had bad luck don't make it hard to help the poor.
The undeserving poor make it hard to help the poor. They're the ones who've made the bad choices or failed to make any choices at all. They're the one who've been helped before and it didn't help. They're the ones who seem to expect others to bail them out, and who hardly say "thank you" when we do. They're the ones who seem to take advantage of the system or other people.
But I need to help them anyway. If I start distinguishing between the deserving and the undeserving poor, I'm finished - at least as far as the Gospel is concerned. Who is really to decide if they are undeserving?
That doesn't mean I shouldn't try to help them help themselves. As the saying goes, "Give me a fish and you feed me for a day. Teach me to fish and you feed me for life." I should always try to help the poor help themselves. But I need to be careful about metering out my help too carefully. Jesus was never overly careful about metering out his mercy. He was criticized for his "reckless" mercy toward undeserving sinners.
The undeserving poor remind me that something deeper needs to change - whatever it is that makes them feel hopeless and helpless. I need to address that. In the meantime, I need to help them, and not be judgmental or overly careful.
Mental Note: If I'm to err, err on the side of largess.
- Little Black Book, Diocese of Saginaw