Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Jesus and Beggers

I am conditioned not to give alms to beggers in the streets or in the trains. The reasons are many. Most of these people are able-bodied and they can work and earn their living. So, instead of giving alms to such beggers I try to support physically challenged people who earn a living through their efforts. I may buy things from them though I may not really need them. I believe everyone should work and make their living. There is another reason too. Giving to a begger is a way of encouraging the wrong system of begging in the streets. I don't want to promote this practice, so I don't give. I also know that there is a lot of cheating in the whole system. Friends who work among street children have told me that most of them have working parents but children just like to beg. It is fun for them! Sometimes, parents encourage this as it brings in some extra income. I am also told that many young woman give birth for the purpose of having a baby to draw more compassion from benefactors. They drug them to look pitiful. They also hire children from parents to carry around in their beegging rounds. Moreover, I give to charity work who identify those who are in real need, so why waste my money on beggers?

There is a lot of evil in the system. I had all my justifications for turning my head away from a beggar or to ask him to leave me alone. However, I have a new perspective now on it after a recent meeting with my spiritual mentor. He is 87 years old; quite an old age to gather so much of wisdom. While he was reminiscing, he just mentioned a verse from the Gospel of Luke in the Holy Bible. Jesus said, "Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back."  He was describing a situation when a begger approached him for alms. The begger was not a genuine one, but he gave him something because he just wants to obey Jesus in this matter. Then he told me his policy is 'to give everyone who begs' just because Jesus commands so. Then he said that he does make a distinction in his giving. He may give a smaller sum to those who appears to be not genuine but a substantial amount to those who appear to be genuine.

It challenged me. Who am I to question the system and practice? When the Lord Jesus has said, 'give' I have to give. At the same time, we need to fight against poverty and hunger. Giving alms won't solve the problems but giving alms is certainly the duty of a follower of Christ Jesus.

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