Happy are those who consider for the poor; God delivers them on the day of trouble. (Psalm 41:1)
The poor need plenty of consideration these days. The pandemic, along with the recent protests, have had an inordinate impact on those who are most economically vulnerable. Many persons on the front lines during the pandemic make barely more than minimum wage – nursing home aides, farmworkers, non-union store clerks, delivery persons. Moreover, the pandemic has led to nearly 20% of the workforce seeking unemployment insurance. In Massachusetts, it is estimated that nearly 40% of the population is experiencing food insecurity. These figures are breathtaking in the USA that prizes itself as the greatest nation on the planet!
It has been said that the difference between ignorance and apathy is “I don’t know” and “I don’t care.” We have to know the pockets of poverty in our communities – persons who are homeless, out of work, families on school lunch programs, elders who must choose between an adequate diet and necessary medications. The question is “do we care?” and then “how will we care?”
Empathy is at the heart of the moral and spiritual life. Empathy involves feeling the joy and pain of others as if it were your own. I have always been sensitive to economically disadvantaged persons due to m
y family receiving food baskets after my father lost his job. I was 11 years old and my family had to move to a new town, where may father was unemployed until he – a professional person – found a job as a security guard in emerging Silicon Valley.
Our wellbeing, the Psalmist believes, depends on our care for the economically disadvantaged. We are, as Martin Luther King asserts, intimately connected in such a way that “I cannot be what I am intended to be until you are what you are intended to be; and you cannot be what you are intended to be until I am what I am intended to be.”
Let us recognize our common humanity and solidarity with those who struggle, and let us see God in every face, and here God’s voice most especially in the cries of the poor. Then we will be truly blessed!
Open my senses to the pain of the world, and let me by your grace, O God, be an instrument of your peace and healing. Amen.
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over 50 books, including FAITH IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC and GOD ONLINE: A MYSTIC’S GUIDE TO THE INTERNET