Along with a related personal story, a friend of mine recently shared the following quote on her own blog:
“This is what we seek: a compassion that stands in awe of what the poor have to carry, rather than standing in judgment of how they carry it”. — Father Gregory Boyle
I don’t know about you, but I am in a position to hear a lot of opinions about how federal and state social services foster “dependence”, and/or encourage poor people to “take advantage” of the system. A vast majority of the people who have said things like this to me also call themselves “Christians”.
In a moment, I am going to have a little ‘come-to-Jesus’ with Christians who feel that this kind of attitude towards the poor is reasonable. But before I do that, I want to offer up this PBS documentary, called “Waging A Living” (click the green link). There seems to be an incredible amount of misinformation and assumptions in the world about what it’s like for people who have a full-time jobs, or several part-time jobs, and still don’t make an income above the poverty line.
Now, beloveds, I would like to kindly but firmly remind us what the Bible says about the poor:
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. – Proverbs 14:31
If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. – Deuteronomy 15:7-8
When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. – Luke 14:14
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. – Proverbs 28:27
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:17
There’s more, but I’ll leave us all with that for now. Seems crystal clear to me: shall we not aim for Father Boyle’s aspirational compassion? (Prayer hands).
Grace and peace,