In the Bible, the book of Micah has a line that in some ways summarizes how we are to live. “You have been told … what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
This is one of my favorite mantras. The verse reminds me how I am to be in the world. I’ve been thinking about this verse alot today. At Mass this morning, the readings centered around how we to live as people of God. The response to the psalm (Psalm 15) was “Those who love justice shall live in the presence of God.” I had to ask myself: Do I love justice and exhibit this in my own life? Who are the people in my life who are suffering injustice? What does God call me to do?
One of my biggest struggles is how to respond to people on the street who ask for money. These folks are usually at the traffic light when I exit the highway or hanging out on my street block. I run into people asking for money near bus and train stations and just about everywhere downtown. I’ve lived in a number of big cities and (sadly) I’ve gotten used to seeing homeless people and people begging for money. At one level I am horrified by the abject poverty I see. At another level (I am ashamed to say) I don’t know what to do so I walk right by. Occasionally I give money or food. Now I’m better at always saying hello and making eye contact. I know there are people who object to handouts … “they’re just going to use it for drugs or alcohol.” But you know, that is a major cop-out. It is not up to me to judge or try to predict how a person is going to use the money. But it is up to me to decide if I am going to hear the call of the poor or if I’m going to ignore it and walk away. In theory, of course I want to “do the right”. But when it comes to relating to people who live on the street and/or beg for money, what is the proper response? I’m not really sure and that troubles me to no end.
Please share your insights, questions, and comments on this.