Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Praxis - Look! a Poor Person.

Oh, look: there's a poor person. Bless her heart. Avert your gaze; don't stare! If children should be seen and not heard, the poor should be neither seen nor heard.

The world gives us 2 options when the poor do appear. (1) Pity: oh, it's so sad they have so little. I feel sorry for her. Maybe I even feel sorry enough at Thanksgiving to donate to the food drive, or if it's winter, I have an old worn out coat I don't want any more, so she can have it.

But increasingly Americans choose option (2) Blame: it's her fault she's poor, she ought to get a job, I'd never let myself get in that mess, she's a drain on society, handouts deepen dependence...

Jesus, interestingly enough, was poor, homeless, convicted as a criminal. In his last sermon before they killed him, Jesus spoke of helping the poor, hungry, homeless - and said that when we love them, we love Jesus, and that our very salvation depends upon it. However we respond to the poor = our response to Jesus.

So if I avert my gaze, I look away from Jesus. If I blame the poor for being poor, I find fault with Jesus. If I do nothing, I do not love Jesus. The political drift in our country is away from sharing what is mine with others. But for Christians this simply isn't an option.

We speak of taking responsibility. Here's what Mother Teresa said about people she was trying to help: "We do not ask why they have AIDS. We simply love them. It is not what they may have done that matters. What matters is what we do."

Our programs that work with the poor are geared toward sustainable responsibility. The Praxis question you and I have to answer is Do we pity, or blame? or do nothing? or do we love Jesus and get active in his endeavors with his people?

Look - a poor person.