Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 3, 2010

The Beauty of the Poor

Kharma is the Hindu law of moral consequences that governs the process of reincarnation. To the Hindu, what a person was and did in a past life determines their place in the present life. Kharma is at the core of India’s caste system. The caste system developed into four social categories before the birth of Christ. Brahmins are at the top of the social order, followed by Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Those without caste are called Dalits, or “untouchables.” No caste means no status. The caste system believes that God created people unequal — a belief contrary to the biblical view.

Kolkata’s streets are littered with the lowest and the least of these — the outcasts. These unfortunate individuals live a desperate and meager existence. Like Lazarus, they long to be fed with the crumbs from the rich man’s table and have only the dogs to lick their sores (Luke 16:19-30). Their bodies are like a canvas painted with brushstrokes of hardship, violence, and neglect. They are acquainted with physical pain as well as the emotional pain inflicted by the disdain of passersby. Many die in filthy and dark places with no one to acknowledge their passing. It was among these that Mother Teresa walked in search of Jesus in His distressing disguise.

Mother Teresa walked slowly among the lowest and the least. She touched untouchables, cradled children in her arms, cleaned and dressed wounds, provided food and clothing, and held the hands of the dying. She was repulsed by nothing and saw beauty in the faces of the poor. She affirmed the worth of others through her gentle embraces, reassuring looks, kind words, and practical assistance. She regarded no one as an outcaste but as persons of worth created in the image of God.

Distressing Disguise
While serving at Mother Teresa’s homes in Kolkata last week, our team was given permission to take a few photos. Amy Granger, my assistant, took a photo that is worth a thousand words. In the background is a photo of Mother Teresa hanging on the wall. In the foreground is a woman with a disfigured face who represents the lowest and the least — the people to whom Mother Teresa ministered. Our team was privileged to touch, hold, feed, and care for this woman and hundreds of others like her. If you look closely at this woman, you will see what Mother Teresa saw — Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor.

You don’t have to go to Kolkata to find Jesus in His distressing disguise. You can find Him in your own community among those who are hurting, despised, overlooked, lonely, hungry, abused, and neglected. We must not allow our Western caste system that exalts the beautiful and the wealthy to distance us from those in need. And, we must not allow the pain and disfigurement of broken lives to blind us to their beauty. Look at the world around you through the eyes of Jesus and then do for others what Jesus would do. That’s a beautiful thing!


  1. Omar,

    You do beautiful and loving things every single day. It is an honor to know a person with such a giving heart.


  2. Tammy…

    Thanks for your kind comment. I’m grateful to God for the opportunities He provides to care for others.


  3. Beautiful story, beautiful photo, beautiful soul. Thanks Omar for “taking” us to Kolkata with you. Thanks Amy for bringing her closer to our hearts.

  4. Thanks Omar, for writing these things. I am kept reading and learning from this article!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: