Sunday, August 10, 2014

Like the Bow

Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin

Like the bow which appears in the clouds on a rainy day was the splendor that surrounded him.  Such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.  Ezekiel 1:28c

“Then the subjects are exempt.  But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up.  Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.  Give that to them for me and for you.”  Matthew 17:26b-27

“‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’  He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’”  Matthew 25:44-45

To whom are we obligated? 

Jesus makes our obligations to the needs of each other clear as our primary responsibility in Matthew 25:34-46.  However, paying the temple tax might divert resources from fulfilling this mission.  To that dilemma, Jesus solves a thorny issue of how to hold an allegiance to this commandment and its corollary – how to do so without upsetting civil authorities by ignoring our responsibilities to the government.  Jesus asserts the freedom from the temple tax (in essence to free up the followers of the early church to serve the poor) but then goes on to instruct Peter to pay the temple tax anyway.

No Henry David (“Civil Disobedience”) Thoreau was Jesus of Nazareth.  He knew he was already rocking the proverbial boat.  So, rather than rock the boat AND ignore the obligations of society, Jesus provides the way and the means for Peter to cover the temple tax.  No Ralph Waldo (“Self Reliance”) Emerson.  Jesus proposes a society in which all are reliant on the service of others or the service to others.

There are no clear cut “either-or” choices for Jesus.  He embraces BOTH options which in the end help to build up society, not to tear it apart.

Today, as you read this, So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E. or will be serving breakfast to about 400 people at its O Street NW facility.  Then, 400 more will knock on their doors for lunch.  The staff members and community volunteers will do it all over again tomorrow.  And Wednesday.  Thursday.  Friday. Saturday. Sunday. And next week. And the week after that. Eight hundred meals per day.  Two-hundred fifty-thousand plus meals in a year served with an equal dose of dignity and respect.

The doors will open not only to nutrition, but once the meal is served and consumed to build strong bodies, then the guests can walk across the street for medical, dental or vision care, social services and job skills training.  Not only are their emergency needs met, but services then help to rebuild people’s lives with additional help. And it does not end there because then, SOME turns its attention to helping people live stable lives with single adult, family or elderly housing.

Every day, every week, every month, every year, SOME staff and volunteers will be living out this obligation and paying its temple tax to build up the Kingdom within the hearts and minds of each person who enters the dining room or clinic.

The organization is not alone in the city or suburbs.  There are so many people who are hungry, that there is plenty of work to go around addressing hunger in our midst. Jesus exempts no one from the temple tax of serving the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners, and giving drink to the thirsty.  Not doing so would tear apart the body of the church by letting it waste away. 

There is a long list of volunteer opportunities presented at should you want to join in on this mission.  If not, check in with your local volunteer center for the names of other programs where you can make a difference in rebuilding the body of the church, one person at a time.  Your volunteer services and contributions are the bow which appears in the sky after a rainy day for people whose lives are in need of being rebuilt. 

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