Thursday, January 9, 2014

Praying on the Impoverishment of My Generosity

Rereading me some liberation theology – condemned, as always, but this time, struggling not to be bogged down in guilt (that I am not poor, but wealthy, very wealthy, by the standards of the world) – I stand indicted by some of the first words of the original Introduction to Gustavo Gutierrez’s A Theology of Liberation: “My purpose is . . . to let ourselves be judged by the word of the Lord . . .”


And yet I recall to memory that to stand in judgment before my Lord is not to be bent down as a broken and caught-out criminal, but rather to stand in glory side-by-side with all, claimed, loved, redeemed, set and sent for purpose, fulfilled and unfulfilled, and that judgment this side of heaven is not my rod so much as my guide.

Yesterday we marked the anniversary of the declaration of war on poverty.  It sounds a bit ridiculous, all this war-declaring we seem to like to do.  But the impulse (I leave to others far brighter than I to judge sincerity of intentions at the time) to eradicate (at least some of) the problems associated with poverty – economic, educational, and health care lack – is a good one.

That the conditions of poverty are (often if not always) institutionally created, it also seems good to me that we endeavor to address them in institutional ways, ever mindful of my far more progressive friends’ mistrust of all things institutional.

But if dismantling is not to our liking, maybe what we need is more mantling – more cloaking, but with what?  Perhaps with righteousness – an unpopular word in my time and place.  But even more, perhaps, with love – the act of actual care, of walking alongside, of doing better at doing better.

This, then, in observing yet another anniversary of human (claimed) desire to eradicate the misery of poverty, oppression, injustice, is my prayer . . .

Lord, I hear You telling me that sitting at table together, being the guest rather than always the host, matters.  For the gifts I have received from those with so much less in a material way than I, I give you thanks.  For the lessons in humility, I give you thanks.  For Your ways not being our ways, my way, I give You thanks.  For Your not-always obvious or even apparent ways of blessing the poor, I give you thanks.  When I have trivialized Your beatitude bestowing upon them by trying to make it about something other than genuine material lack, I regret.  When I am impatient because the solutions are hard and often not obvious, I regret.  When I am tempted to judge the worthiness of another before I bestow Your graces shared with me upon them, I regret.  Help me to do better at doing better.  Amen.


  1. I very much enjoyed and appreciated your prayer this day.You are one of God's blessings. Never forget that and never allow anyone to tell you otherwise. Peace to you this day and may God's grace surround you in love.

    1. Oh, Judy, what a dear, dear blessing you are to me. Thank you so much for these much needed words. Hugs & love, Beth