Wednesday, August 9, 2017
what we do to the least of these
St Ambrose talks to us about how we treat the hungry today in A Year with the Church Fathers. He says that when we use scarcity to drive up the price of food for our benefit, we are robbing the poor.
Most of us aren't in a position to drive up prices in times of scarcity. But most of us do have "this world's goods" in some form or another. We live in America, the richest country in the world. And even if we're lower middle class, or even upper lower class, we still have astronomically more than most of the rest of the world. What do we do with that wealth?
Jesus made it clear that how we treat the poor is exactly how we are treating Him. And that our eternal reward will depend very directly on how we treat Him in the form of the poor during our lifetime. I've talked in previous blogs about the things we can do in order to help the poor. The chief being respecting their dignity and treating them like people. A smile, a friendly wave, a "good morning" can go a long way toward lifting the spirits of the poor. And of course, giving of our money and time in a responsible way toward alleviating their suffering is part of what it means to be a Christian.
But we also need to beware that we're not robbing Him. He speaks in the New Testament of either neglecting Him or helping Him. He doesn't mention what happens to those who act in such a way that it directly HURTS the poor. I'm pretty sure it's not a good thing. So if you're worried that something you're doing is hurting those who need help, ask Him to show you what it is, and to give you the courage to change.
I'm not going to lay down a guilt trip on you guys about shopping at stores that don't use fair trade policies, or ask you to boycott businesses that are exploiting the poor of other countries. If that is something you're called to do, please give it the best of your effort.
There are, however, simple things we can do to live simply and therefore shift some of the wealth toward those who need it. Going through our closets and giving away things we don't need anymore. Visiting local food banks and volunteering our time to make a difference. Finding a local Habitat for Humanity and finding ways we can give to poor families that need affordable homes.
And, above all, asking Him to show us how we can help. That's a prayer that I guarantee He will answer with a yes.
God, thank You for teaching us about not hurting the poor. Please help us make good decisions.