In his Saturday afternoon talk, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked members to follow the Lord’s perfect example and prayerfully seek ways to assist the poor.
Counted among the Savior’s most sacred duties were blessing the poor — including the poor in spirit. From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus loved the impoverished and disadvantaged in an extraordinary way.
“Down through history poverty has been considered humankind’s greatest and most widespread challenge,” he said. “Its obvious toll is usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional damage it can bring may be even more debilitating. In any case, the great Redeemer has issued no more persistent call than for us to join Him in lifting this heavy burden from the people.”
Many might ask what they can do to help the poor. The Master Himself offered an answer when, prior to His betrayal and crucifixion, Mary anointed Jesus’ head with an expensive burial ointment. Judas Iscariot protested this extravagance and ‘murmured against her.’
“Jesus said, ... Why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work. ... ‘She hath done what she could’ ” (Mark 14: 4-6, 8).
Elder Holland then offered further counsel on uplifting the poor.
“We can, as King Benjamin taught, cease withholding our means because we see the poor as having brought their misery upon themselves.
“Perhaps some have created their own difficulties, but don’t the rest of us do exactly the same thing? Isn’t that why this compassionate ruler asks, ‘Are we not all beggars?’ Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case?”
Remember, King Benjamin said one obtains a remission of his or her sins by pleading to God — but one retains a remission of those sins by compassionately responding to the poor.
Members should also pray for those in need. Both the rich and the poor can “do what they can” when others are in need.
Elder Holland spoke of his reverence for principles of industry, thrift, self-reliance and ambition. It’s important that people help themselves before seeking help from others.
“Furthermore, I don’t know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot always help themselves,” he said. “But I know that God knows, and He will guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again.”
Assist others by observing the Law of the Fast, he added. “Cherish that sacred privilege at least monthly and be as generous as circumstances permit in your fast offering and other humanitarian, educational and missionary contributions.”
In closing, Elder Holland paid tribute to President Thomas S. Monson, whose life has been defined by doing all he could do to help those in need.