Can you join with us to help our neighbors avoid going hungry, keep there lights on and truly have a merry Christmas? Donate now!
The common rationale for not giving a beggar on the corner money is based off of our concerns of what will happen with the money we give. Will they drink it away? Will they get high with it? When it comes to helping people with physical needs, we at St. Roch Community Church are very intentional about avoiding help that hurts. Many of our efforts favor development over relief so we have financial literacy programs, jobs training courses and a Christmas store instead of a food pantry, toy give aways or the like.
In our sophistication of helping the materially poor, however, we can actually run the risk of missing a vital aspect of the Christian life; mercy. We have had numerous requests in the last week for assistance with utility bills, food and rent assistance. When a request comes we administer a questionnaire to determine if the person requesting aid has family who can help, assist them with creating a plan to not allow the need to repeat and give assistance with creating a budget. We find that poor money management often lead to the financial pickle in which most people find themselves. There are other factors like a slum landlord who refuses to fix leaky plumbing, causing the water bill to soar. The loss of a job, incarceration, addiction, mental illness, domestic abuse, low-paying jobs, rising cost of living and more are contributors to the unfavorable and even dire situations some of our neighbors find themselves.
In the beatitudes Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” A few chapters over in Matthew 25 Jesus teaches that our acts of mercy to the hungry, homeless, naked and imprisoned are directly tied our faith in Christ. We are saved by grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone but an outward evidence that an inward transformation has occurred is specifically tied to how we care for those on the margin, the powerless, the widow, stranger, orphan, etc.
The beautiful thing about the Gospel is that none of us are worthy of God’s love nor can we scheme or work to earn it but it is strictly His mercy and extravagant love that bridges the gap and returns us to Him. The apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians of this when he tells them “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” When it comes to mercy though, we can be condescending and paternalistic towards the poor, forgetting about the mercy that has been extended to us.
Would you consider partnering with us so that together we can be extensions of God’s mercy? You can donate online, mail in a donation (1738 St. Roch Ave. New Orleans, LA 70117, write “mercy” on the for line) send a Walmart gift card or drop off groceries. When I think about “making the season” bright for my family I think about what gifts I can buy but for many families in our neighborhood just having food in the refrigerator, having running water and keeping the lights on will be what literally brightens the season. Join us, as we join Christ, in being merciful.