Amanda and I took a field trip to Austin a few days ago on our journey from Sugar Land back to Abilene. We’ve been talking about Austin a lot lately. About moving there once I finish my master’s.
We parked our car at 6th and Lamar and then walked down to Congress. We were looking for a trendy place to settle in for lunch when I noticed the various homeless people sitting, wandering around, smoking.
And, as usual, I ignored them—but not in the callous way that suburbanites do, you know? Because, you see, if any of them had actually asked for anything, I totally would have given them some money. Because, you know, I’m trying to be radical.
Give to everyone who begs from you. (St. Luke 6:30a)
And, since I walked hurriedly past without looking at anyone, I was pretty damn sure no one was going to ask me for anything. This is, of course, after I cried my way through Les Mis.
Look down and see the beggars at your feet. Look down and have some mercy if you can. Look down and see the sweepings of the street. Look down, look down upon your fellow man.
But I think St. Luke would turn over in his grave if he knew that I was making Torah out of the words he attributes to Jesus. It’s not about the conditions (give only if someone asks) its about the crucified heart. St. Luke clarifies this when he has Jesus add:
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (6:31)
There’s the rub. I intentionally slowed down at one point as we walked behind a haggard, poorly clothed, homeless man because I did not want to give him cause to ask me for anything. The thing is, I noticed that his shoes were in awful condition and that he was limping along.
I noticed and I did nothing.
St. Matthew clarifies the above words of Jesus.
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (7:12)
True Torah is to go out of the way to love another person. And the phrase “love others” is so perfectly abstract. So easy for us to safely ignore. But really, it means “offer the old, haggard, limping homeless man your shoes.”
For one thing, I had extra shoes in the car. But it wouldn’t have mattered even if I didn’t have extra shoes. St. Matthew again:
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (7:13-14)
In this instance, the narrow path is walked with bare feet.