“If there is among you anyone in need,
a member of your community in any of your towns within the land
that the Lord your God is giving you,
do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy member.
You should rather open your hand,
willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be.”
Ancient scripture instructs landowners to leave a portion of the produce of their fields for the needy to glean, thus providing for the hungry. The prophets proclaim God’s will that those who have must share with those who have not. Isaiah said a person of faith must “share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house.”
When Jesus began his public ministry he announced his purpose by quoting from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” Then he looked at the people and said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” His calling to us is to join him in lifting the poor. He goes so far as to say that, as we treat the poor, so we, in essence, are treating Jesus himself.
As Christians, we have committed ourselves to certain responsibilities at our baptism. Among these commitments is to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself” and to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” By opening our hearts and extending our hands to those in need we carry out God’s purpose for us, draw closer to each other in Christian community and bring greater meaning to our lives in the process.