Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thanking Beggars

Ever think about what garden stores and nurseries do in a Minnesota winter? Well, when they're not closing down and putting out signs saying "Dormant for the Season," as one near my house does, they're selling the basic supplies of cold weather: firewood, and the items listed on this sign.

Here's a quote from Peter Maurin of the Catholic Worker:

1. People who are in need and are not afraid to beg give to people not in need the occasion to do good for goodness’ sake.
2. Modern society calls the beggar bum and panhandler and gives him the bum’s rush.
But the Greeks used to say that people in need are the ambassadors of the gods.
3 Although you may be called bums and panhandlers you are in fact the Ambassadors of God.
4. As God’s Ambassadors you should be given food, clothing and shelter by those who are able to give it.
5. Islamic teachers tell us that God commands hospitality, and hospitality is still practiced in Islamic countries.
6. But the duty of hospitality is neither taught nor practiced in Christian countries.

In a recent column, Archbishop Flynn said he'd rather be scammed sometimes than fail to give to someone in need, ever. Jewish teaching advises thanking beggars for giving you the chance to practice charity. Hospitality isn't the only thing not taught in "Christian" countries, of course, not that the U.S. has much call to name itself by any faith in recent years. How did we get so greedy and mean? How did we get to a place where the use of torture is even a subject for debate?
Praying today for: the people of the United States.

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