Hungry? OK, but first you have to…
The quick (and unbiased) synopsis of this recent story in The NY Times is that homeless and needy folks in NYC are required to sit through a sermon in order to receive groceries donated by Trader Joe’s. Only the first 50 people will get in, and while they listen to Rev. Bill Jones’ sermon, volunteers fill their carts with bread, produce, and eggs. “People are not only hungry for food, but hungry for the word of God,” Mr. Jones said. “There’s not just a physical need but a spiritual need.”
I find it misdirected energy to require that hungry and desperate people listen to any religion’s message. You know that they need food – inarguably they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t – and, yet, you require that they pay the toll first. And, what choice do they have? Of course they will, and, they’ll rush to be one of those lucky 50 who get the chance.
Remember the once-popular WWJD bracelets? I just don’t believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) would first require unfortunate, broken, hungry people to listen to his message before they were fed. I found the following Bible verses that speak about feeding the hungry.
Acts 10:4 – Cornelius stared at him in fear. What is it, Lord he asked. The angel answered, Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
Matthew 25:35 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.
The first verse mentions the word “gift” – as in gifts that you give the poor. Gifts are given without requiring anything of the receiver. Gifts are given with pure intention of the heart to please the receiver. When the needy are concerned, you are giving because you know they need it. When I stop to give a beggar money – and unfortunately Chicago is not immune to the needy – I give it. I don’t ask for anything in return.
There is no doubt that this Reverend Jones is a caring human being who wants to help people. No doubt at all. It is completely his prerogative and right to run his program the way he wants to. I just don’t like his price tag.
I might be way off-base, and this is only my opinion on this Reverend’s actions.
I just don’t get it.
What do you think?