Monday, February 27, 2012
Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me … Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Tongue in his cheek, multiple Oscar winner Randy Newman sings, “In America, you get food to eat, won’t have to run through the jungle and scuff up your feet. You just sing about Jesus, drink wine all day, it’s great to be an American … ain’t no lions or tigers, ain’t no mamba snake, just the sweet watermelon and the buckwheat cake.”*
That pie-in-the-sky, meant to sweeten the hopes of slaves bound to America from Africa, really is the way a lot of us live. There just aren’t any lions around to eat us, and there is enough food for us to eat every single day.
It’s hard, for me at least, to be honest about my own abundance, to face it and give more and more of it away. I know an attorney who lives on half his income and gives the other half away. I don’t do that. Perhaps the attorney feels as inadequate in the face of Jesus’ statement as I do, I don’t know.
The least I can do for the stranger and the starving and the suffering is to not turn away. God help me, sometimes I still do.
That’s about as honest as I can be. A friend reminded me Sunday morning of what Richard Rohr wrote in Everything Belongs: “Humility and honesty are really the same thing. A humble person is simply a person who is brutally honest about the whole truth.”
Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid.” And then the rubber hits the road. Give and it will be given unto you. Pressed down, shaken together. He gives in abundance and expects me to, too.
Rohr finishes the chapter he calls “Cleansing the Lens”: “The great patterns are always the same. It’s either fear or love. It’s either illusion or love. It’s either self-protection or love. Healthy religion is always about love. All we can do is get out of the way.”
Lord, your goodness endures forever. We are your children, and you are always good to us. And you are clear about it: we can and must be good to each other. Good, not indifferent. Generous, not stingy. Hospitable, not afraid. Open my eyes every day and let me see who and where and when and how you have for me to give. In your strength all things are possible.