Well, stuff keeps coming up.  The same stuff.  Isn’t that the way it goes?

In this morning’s gospel (Episcopal Daily Office Lectionary) Jesus says, “Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.”

He says other things too.  But that’s really enough for today.  I don’t know if this challenges you the way it challenges me.  But it is a challenge for me.

I know there is a Jewish tradition that you must give to everyone who asks for your help.  And I suspect Jesus was in this tradition.  The tradition doesn’t (as I understand it) require you to make someone completely whole.  But the expectation is that you will do something to help.  I think the thought is that if everyone does a little something, it will add up to enough.  But I’m guessing.

I find myself wanting to give help in a way that has a chance of changing a life.  I don’t want to buy a loaf of bread today (or a bottle of wine) that leaves someone hungry tomorrow, repeating the same cycle like Groundhog Day.  I really want to target the help in a program or circumstances where there seems to be some hope of breaking the cycle and letting someone move on to a new life where this won’t be a daily, repeated reality.  Doing less seems wasteful.  It seems like bad stewardship.  But not responding to the immediate need seems stingy.  (And there is even a part of me that says that if I were on the street, and wanted some booze to leave behind the reality of my life, it shouldn’t be anybody else’s business.)

So I’m torn.

And I probably always will be.

But Jesus does say, here (Matthew 5:42) and elsewhere, to give to everyone who begs from me.  He does say that when I give to someone like this, I really give to Jesus himself.  And when I don’t give, it is Jesus himself I refuse.

Speaking only for myself, this makes me uncomfortable.