There are two rationalizations that I find particularly bothersome. The first is: “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” The second rationale I find particularly troubling.: It goes along the lines of “Don’t give money to a beggar because they’ll only spend it on drugs (or booze).”
The problem with this is it sounds like wisdom, and it convinces us that we are actually helping the person by not giving to them.
What Jesus esssentially tells us is that what we are worrying about becomes our master, and Jesus tells us that we cannot have two masters because we will come to love one and hate the other. He tells us we cannot serve both God and money, but the money he is talking about is not simply money as it is, but money as we make it: the key to our security and our survival. Money becomes the answer to our worries — or so we think — so we seek wealth to ensure we have food and clothing and housing and medical care and all the other things we need to survive.
The danger we have as faithful people reading and hearing the Gospels is that we can often dismiss the Pharisees and others as simply being enemies of Christ, and therefore, they are of no concern for us who are Christian. Yet, the Pharisees are a cautionary tale for the “religious” Christians: we can get so caught up in our own purity and righteousness, we forget that we are sinners like everyone else, and we demand people be like us, instead of being with them wherever they are — we demand sacrifice and ignore mercy. We become spiritual tax-collectors — abusing, extorting, threatening, coercing in the name of God.
Matthew’s Gospel begins and ends with the statement, or the promise, that God is “with” us. The word “with” does not only mean company, as in God is in our presence. The word “with” also is used as “for” and “solidarity.” We tells someone, “I am with you,” meaning: “I am for what you are doing,” or “I am in solidarity with you.” The word “with” also is used to mean “understand.” When someone who is listening to someone says: “I am with you,” they mean: “I understand what you are saying.” So Jesus as God With Us is a declaration that God is in our presence, God understands us, and God is for us and in solidarity with us. As Karl Barth says: Jesus is God’s “Yes!” to humanity.
Being a Christian is not about not doing things that are wrong, but it is about doing things that are right. It is about adopting a certain attitude that fuels those right behaviors that are positive and proactive and which transforms us as well as the world.
Jesus said to pray for your enemies, so you better start praying for yourself! When you start talking torture, when you withhold justice, when you withhold food for the hungry, drink to the thirsty, money for the poor, medicine and medical care to the sick, when you hate, when you spend billions on a jet […]
The Sacrifice required of us by God is no longer the blood of bulls and rams, for Christ, our Passover Sacrifice, has been slain by us — and has become the saving Sacrifice for us. The Sacrifice required of us by God is food for the hungry, money for the poor, medical care for the […]