Monday, September 19, 2016

Looking for the out

We start the week with a reading from the Book of Proberbs that begins simply

Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in your power to do it for him.

And our minds will immediately jump to the question "who has a claim?" Like the question that follows on the command love your neighbor, "Who is my neighbor?"

Even if we use the more literal translation

Don't withhold good from those to whom it is due

We can start looking for the escape clause.

We forget the most basic moral principle is "Do good, avoid evil."

A certain level of good, basic respect, is due to every human being simply because they are human. They were created in the image and likeness of God.

Add to that the dignity that is due to any baptized person, because they are now a son or daughter of God. Then there are the commands in the scriptures about how we MUST treat the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. It turns out that there are a great number of people who have a claim on good from us.

Jesus even takes away the escape clause in the Old Testament, when he adds that we are to love our enemies. So if we are Christians we are stuck doing good to everybody, as the proverb say "when it is in your power to do so."

But how often is it not in my power to do at least some good? We may not be able to fix the person's problems, but we can usually do at least something to lift a person up, point them in the right direction, or just let them know they are not alone.

In short, the moment we lay eyes on another person our habitual reaction should be to think of some good we can do, beginning with a smile and greeting. Of course, for it to become a habit, we must practice.