There's a story Jesus tells in which he says that when you give a party, invite the poor and those who can't repay you. I always thought that was a very mean thing to do to the poor. Invite them to a feast at a rich man's house???? But then I realized that sometimes the poor have forgotten how to dream or how real folks live. And maybe they need to have great things past before their eyes to stir them to a passion to get themselves out of the gutter?
Of course, Jesus wanted to make sure the poor were fed and remembered. I know He wanted us to think in terms of visiting in prisons and hospitals, etc. Part of the job is love and the other part hope.
But that is a given. That goes without saying. Generous people are always giving to the poor..but they never feed the poor in their own houses. (Okay, so we have to be careful of murderous and thieving homeless people...but bear with me.)
But the poor can be so poor and downtrodden for so long that they forget how to dream and they forget all the other stuff that is "normal." The poor and the depressed and the imprisoned and the hospitalized should definitely be taken care of but their minds must be renewed as well and their minds fed with memories of what their life could be. Sometimes they need to see the good in life. Many a drug addict has gone off drug because they saw a glimpse of the life they left behind. That's what I meant...not the obvious of feeding and remembering them. Folks aren't put on the earth to only receive our goods, they are put on earth to do great things as well. So they have to be taught to reimagine a good life, after they have been ill for a long time.
To see someone running or dancing might be enough to make me want to lose weight. Normalcy -- good normalcy-- stretches the mind. Seeing the riches of this life can push the poor to perhaps hope and dream that they themselves could get all that. Isn't envy a good thing? Isn't angry competitiveness a good thing for those who have lost all their energy because life treats them badly? Just pondering. IT is not because the poor are dreamless that they end up poor. But after one has been poor or sick or grieving or hanging around bad folks...perhaps one should be surrounded by things that spur you on to become equal to the rich man.
There is a certain arrogance to saying we should feed the poor. Of course we should feed the poor. But being able to bring them out of despair and to make those who have no hope and no image or imagination of good have imagination again...some folks are very into us being noble feeders of the poor, as if the bible is only about morality and kindness to the downtrodden. In their weird gray and black and white minds, they can't understand that and they think you are "blaming" the poor.
I feel that if a businessman who has become homeless lived in a house with a toilet that flushes for more than a day he would not be able to return to his homeless shelter in despair. He would become angry and envious and an image of good would rise again in his heart. Jesus' words weren't only about being good to others but was about the psychology of humanity. He knows people. And there is a healing power to taking someone into one's house as a friend...as opposed to making them objects of pity who are to receive from us as if we are lords of their lives. So much of what the Bible says is very deeply psychological. Yes, I'm thinking image and imagination should be fed and that perhaps envy and greed are things that can help push the negative images from the minds of those who have no image of good. After eating at a plush dinner table with tons of food...and sitting for half the day at a great feast....perhaps...perhaps... there is a lot to the phrase "provoke to jealousy." We use that to mean spiritual provocation and wanting to be good but if God made jealousy (and all emotions are good if used with the right mind) perhaps jealousy is a good thing. Yes, yes, some folks can't see God as creating all emotions...yet God himself is jealous because our minds are not imagining or envisioning Him properly.
Again, just thinking.