“For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever.” Psalm 9:18
It is impossible to escape God’s concern for the poor and needy in Christian Scripture. Read the law, the prophets, the psalms, the gospels and letters, and Divine concern for the least among us is everywhere in abundance.
The people in covenant with God are expected to live in ways that honor and care for the most vulnerable among them – widows, orphans, aliens – and so fulfill the law’s requirements for “right relationship.”
Likewise, the early church is essentially a community of caring that practices the lifestyle of their Teacher and Lord by sharing what they have with one another, be it much or little, and in so doing Christ’s presence becomes real to them.
When we remember the poor and the needy we are remembering the promise of God to live among us and be our God. We are remembering that we too are poor, we too are needy, only in different ways. We are remembering that hope cannot be bought or sold – it is given by the One who is “a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Ps. 9:9).
Hope often arrives through the instruments of human hands and hearts moved by God’s concern. Hope comes in the forms of meeting tangible human needs and advocating for societal responsibility for the least among us. Hope is frequently expressed by challenging oppressive economic practices and skewed governmental priorities that reward the powerful and leave the poor with fewer and fewer resources.
Scripture is not only a comfort, it is a challenge – a challenge to live a life attuned to God’s concern and so fulfill our highest calling as ones made in the image of our Creator.
Words (c) 2012 Mark Lloyd Richardson
Photo (c) 2012 Hannah Kelsey Richardson (children in Guatemala)