Would we do more than write a cheque if Jesus were to identify himself with the poor?

“What is truly radical about this passage is not that God rewards those who help the poor; what is truly radical is that Jesus identifies himself with the poor. The pain of the hungry person is the pain of Christ, and it is thus also the pain of anyone who is a member of the body of Christ. If we are identified with Christ, who identifies himself with the suffering of all, then what is called for is more than just charity. The very distinction between what is mine and what is yours breaks down in the body of Christ. We are not to consider ourselves as absolute owners of our stuff, who then occasionally graciously bestow charity on the less fortunate. In the body of Christ, your pain is my pain, and my stuff is available to be communicated to you in your need, as Aquinas says. In the consumption of the Eucharist, we cease to be merely “the other” to each other. In the Eucharist, Christi is gift, giver, and recipient; we are simultaneously fed and become food for others,” – William T. Cavanaugh (Being Consumed, p. 56), on Matthew 25:31-46.

Last year I wrote a post about the need to enter into relationship with poverty/the marginalized. In light of Scripture, as Cavanaugh points out, we see that Jesus identifies himself with the poor: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” This is all the more reason why charity can do nothing for the marginalized. You cannot love the marginalized unless you enter in to relationship with the marginalized, and in so doing, you will enter into relationship with Jesus.

In fact, let’s do away with charity all together. In the kingdom, there ought to be no need for charity. As Aquinas puts it, “Man ought to possess external things, not as his own, but as common, so that, to wit, he is ready to communicate them to others in their need,” (Summa, II-II.66.2.).

grace and peace.

jt.

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