During the 50 days of Easter, the Church each year has us read the Acts of the Apostles to call us back to our starting point and remind us of the role of the church in the world.
The center of the reading today is a man who was born with some serious disability. He is brought by loved one each day to beg at the gate from those entering the temple area to pray. Most probably tried to ignore him, some probably threw him some change, some insulted him. Peter and John stop. They engage him in conversation. They invite him to look at them, instead of hiding his face in shame. Peter touches him, takes him by the right hand and raises him up, as Christ had been raised up. It is worth noting that Luke (the author of Acts) uses the same language for resurrection as for this healing. The man has after all received a new life.
We like to take up second collections, collect food for the local food bank, and these are all good things. The reading today reminds us however that nothing replaces direct human contact, relationships, in helping to change a person's life. It isn't easy , because the real poor aren't like the ones in the renaissance paintings of the bible stories, pretty, and clean, and poised. Our instinctive reactions may even be to distance ourselves or fear them. That's where grace comes in.
We can ignore them, throw money at them, or actually take them by the hand, raise them up, and help them to stand on their own two feet.