Thursday, December 04, 2014

Footsteps of the Poor

He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust.  It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.  Isaiah 26:5-6

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”  Matthew 7:21

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.  For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.”  Luke 1: 46-49

Matthew shows the relationship not between saying and doing (as is the case with the “false prophets”), but between hearing and doing.  These words of Jesus are applied to everyone – or at least to every Christian who listens.
Listening is an activity that is much featured and praised in the Good News.  

Mary listens to the angel.  The disciples listen to the call.  When Jesus is baptized, the voice of God proclaims His beloved son.  When we next hear the voice of God at the Transfiguration, it is punctuated with a special instruction: “Listen to him!”

In fact, one of the first acts we encounter with the young Jesus is listening – modelling for us the behavior that he wants us to replicate.  When he got separated from his parents, Joseph and Mary looked all over for their son.  “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46)

Jesus’ friends Mary and Martha actually have a disagreement over this.  Martha is busy with the hospitality and wants help.  But she does not get help.  “And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.” (Luke 10:39)

Jesus makes clear that listening is not an end in and of itself.  The end result of listening to the word in our piety and study is and must be action. 

As we enter the holy seasons of Advent and Christmas, if we listen, we will hear the footsteps of the poor.  What will we do about them?  If we turn on our heels and walk the other way, then all that time in church or Bible study is for naught. 

Recently a story in Fort Lauderdale, Florida caught the nation’s attention.  The city recently passed a law about requirements for programs feeding the homeless.  That law led to no less than three citations since November 2 for a 90-year old man who was feeding the homeless.
For the time being, it is no longer illegal to feed the homeless in Fort Lauderdale.

The Washington Post reported:  On Tuesday, a Florida circuit court judge temporarily halted a controversial ordinance that restricts charities from feeding the homeless in public. The ruling arrived several days after the most recent arrest of Arnold Abbott, a 90-year-old World War II veteran who has for years run a nonprofit devoted to feeding the city’s homeless population.

Arnold Abbot was not going to back down even if he faced a night in jail.  For considerably less risk, how will you respond to the footsteps of the poor this week?

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