Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother depicts destitute pea pickers in California, centering on Florence Owens Thompson, age 32, a mother of seven children, in Nipomo, California, March 1936.
Why does the Bible, and why does Jesus, tell us to care for the poor and the outsider? It is because we all need to stand in that position for our own conversion. We each need to stand under the mercy of God, the forgiveness of God, and the grace of God— to understand the very nature of reality. When we are too smug and content, then grace and mercy have no meaning— and God has no meaning. Forgiveness is not even desired. When we have pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps, religion is always corrupted because it doesn’t understand the mystery of how divine life is transferred, how people change, and how life flows. It has been said by others that religion is largely filled with people who are afraid of hell, and spirituality is for people who have gone through hell. – Richard Rohr
The word philanthropy has its roots in the Greek language meaning “love for mankind.” It was never meant to apply only to donors of thousands or millions of dollars.
– Arthur C. Frantzreb
Chains always break at the weakest link. That’s why Kingdom living concentrates there. That’s why Love (agape) flows there. That’s why Church (and its many related institutions) always exist to care for “the least of these.”
– Steve Harper, Church of “The Weakest Link”
The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward one’s neighbor who lives at the roadside assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease. As each one of this Society is to become a Co-Worker of Christ in the slums, each ought to understand what God and the Society expect from her. Let Christ live and radiate his life in her, and through her in the slums. Let the poor seeing her be drawn to Christ, and invite him to enter their lives and their homes. Let the sick and the suffering find in her a real angel of comfort and consolation. Let the little ones of the streets cling to her because she reminds them of him, the friend of the little ones. -Mother Teresa
Paul says, “It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified, that we surround with the greatest dignity” (1 Corinthians 12:23). The Church as the people of God can truly embody the living Christ among us only when the poor remain its most treasured part. Care for the poor, therefore, is much more than Christian charity. It is the essence of being the body of Christ. – Henri Nouwen
Click here for a reflection entitled Samaritan, by Steve Garnaas-Holmes. It’s an incredibly beautiful and challenging reminder of how the rich and poor need one another and heal one another.
Click here for a powerful lament and reflection by Steve Garnaas Holmes
entitled No Justice
Acts 4:32-35 NIV
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 NIV
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
Matthew 25:37-40 NIV
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
For the Hurting, by Steve Garnaas Holmes
God, I confess how much of my faith is for me alone,
and does not care for the poor and the lonely.
Burn a place in my heart for the hurting.
Take my prayer and give it to them.
Divide my faith between me and those who doubt.
Split my assurance with those who despair.
Share my joy with the oppressed,
and my hope with the abused.
May all I believe, all I do, all I pray
be for the sake of your beloved who hurt the most.
May my prayer disturb me until it leads to action,
to work and witness for justice, to change the world.
God of love and justice, give me courage rather than peace,
compassion rather than comfort, earth rather than heaven.
With Christ, I ask you, God:
save me last.
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