I was re-listening to a clip from a talk David Ruis gave a while ago, and it was sparking some thoughts. He gets into this part about the difference between sharing and giving:

...Sharing is totally different than giving. Because you can give something to someone and not share anything with them. ...the ultimate thing is to get a house and some land and a place where you've got a huge barrier around you that keeps you from being connected with anybody... so the houses get bigger, the property gets bigger, the fences get higher, the security systems get more intense, that's the goal right? The reality is riches isolate you. And then, all we have is philanthropy, so you lob gifts of kindness across the fence and then we hail that as the greatest giving on the planet...

I think that is what Jesus was getting at by advocating a personal connection to the poor, rather than the welfare mentality - sending them money to attempt to fix their problems. And the reason, as I see it, is that the welfare mentality assumes that the problem needing to be fixed is only with them. It ignores that Eastern Orthodox notion that I pick up from time to time at James' site that the problems of the world are caused by the dark selfishness in each of us, in all humanity, rather than just the bad stuff going on in a particular place. In calling for the personal touch, Christ calls us to an embracing of diversity; of community that simultaneously fixes us and them, transforming us into a "we". And that again points everything back to the Love that Jesus was all about revealing, because stepping into community is an automatic challenge to our own selfishness. It demands that we be deliberate about making the move to selflessness (or asking God to move us there, because that might be a miracle in itself).