I found this article on CNN that I thought would be of use.
Sometimes those of us who celebrate the holiday in plenty need to remember that we have so much to be thankful for. I am one of these people. I know that thankfulness is/ought to be a daily practice. I know that the Lord is the giver of good gifts.
Yet when I read that 17.2 million people in my own country lack the resources to not be hungry I start to wonder why this is.
A Brazilian priest named Dom Helder Camara is famous in part for having said, “When I feed the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why there are poor they call me a communist.” In a recent conversation I had about the issue there were some boldly polarized thoughts that were thrown out there. The quote by the priest rings true within the context of North American Christianity.
When one reads Matthew 25:31-46 we hit a problem:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “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.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
do you see it? The ones who help the needy receive eternal life.
Now, surely this cannot be taken as the whole of scripture on salvation. That’s not enough, but all things considered it seems to imply that for disciples of Christ the poor are our direct concern. It seems like we need to think hard about how people get poor too. I don’t think simplistic generalizations cut it.
I doubt that 17.2 million people can directly be blamed for their circumstances. Even if they could, the text doesn’t make this an important fact. It doesn’t say blessed are you “who gave me food when I deserved it, had worked hard for it, and made wise life decisions that merited it.”
It seems that Jesus isn’t as picky about sharing blessings as some of us assume Him to be. He’s out to bless everyone. If you’re a part of His team…this is your goal too.
I don’t know a way to dodge this. Since I’m just going home to eat food with people who have enough myself I can’t direct anything at you that I’m not directing at myself.
At the very least this all starts with thankfulness. For the moment I intend to begin there.