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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Poor Israel

God’s preferential love for the poor and homeless goes back more than 4,000 years to the time of the nomadic tribe of Abraham. These first “chosen people” were a wandering clan that God called in their poverty to make his very own. But why a poor band of losers when he could have chosen winners like the Egyptians? Historically, God set the stage at this ancient juncture in time to demonstrate his preferential love for the poor. He called the migrant homeless clans of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) to be his very own. With this shocking poverty-stricken choice (not a Donald Trump-style hiring pick), he sent out a seismic message that has rocked the ages. The Lord God is basically saying that, “I am the God of the poor, the lost and the downtrodden. The poor are ready to hear my voice. The rich are not.”

The Lord God could have chosen the Egyptians to be his people. He’s God, he could have chosen whomever he wanted. In fact, he could have chosen a rich and powerful army of people such as the these very organized Egyptians. But he didn’t. Why not? They were the perfect choice! They were smart, clean and powerful by earthly standards. Unfortunately, strong, arrogant, abusive, smart, wise, proud and controlling beautiful people do not make for good residents in the Kingdom of God. Possibly these types of people are good picks for business ventures, but not for the city of God.

In Deuteronomy we read, “The Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us. Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders; and He has brought us to this land flowing with milk and honey.” Deuteronomy 26:5-9

Okay, so in the end, God made this poor homeless band of the first Jews rich. The first tribesmen of the new nation remembered their poverty and were grateful for their new home. The lost and the homeless always make for more thankful and grateful citizens. God knows that. That is why in his wisdom he calls the poor, the lost, the homeless, prisoner, the neglected, the despised and the abandoned to preferential treatment in the Kingdom of God. Wouldn’t it be wise to get to know the poor and to serve them now? Soon they will be the saints and leaders in the new heaven and new earth. “The first will be last, and the last will be first.” Basically that means the homeless man or woman on your street corner may soon be your next boss in heaven. Welcome to the Kingdom of God!


ls said...

How is it possible that I've forgotten that the Jewish people were homeless for so long? What must that be like to give up your home and go to the desert and roam and search until God tells you that this is your home. What must have that been like to commit you and your family to homeless because of your own faith? How many crosses did these people have to bear?

I remember giving the reading on the feast of the Veneration of Cross and it started out like this:
With their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

The Jews of that generation experienced so many tribulations that would continue through the distruction of the temple and through the diaspora.

God bless them, our brothers and sisters.

Jesus was Homeless said...

L.S. - Thank you for the inspired insights into our Hebrew brothers and sisters! The call of poverty-stricken Israel is a microcosm of the point God wishes to make to all of humankind. He wishes to tell us that from birth, "each of us is poor" and "each of us is homeless" until as Augustine once said - "Our souls are restless until they rest in Thee." Our poverty, once embraced is the tool that God uses to call us to our homes, peace and rest in Him. Once yielding our lives to him, we are no longer homeless. Until that happens, each of us is on the run and destitute.

So, rather than despising the homeless and poor, we are to embrace them. They, by God’s design are a sign, image and symbol of the poverty in each one of us. Despise the poor loser and Christ is despised. Embrace the poor loser and one's own home is found in heaven.

Discovering this message of mercy to the poor is the equivalent of physicists discovering the all-encompassing singularity theory. It is THE “God surprise” and THE paradox that defines the Kingdom of God. These mysteries are revealed by the Holy Spirit – to those who are spiritually and psychologically ready to hear and to hear them, to see and to see them, to act and to act upon them.