The prophet Amos is speaking in a time of upper class affluence in Israel. He begins with the words “Alas for those who are at ease?” and seven verses later informs the hearers they will be the first to be taken into captivity. Why? Not because they are rich but because they have not attended to the needs of the poor, “the ruin of Joseph.” In their excess they lie on beds of ivory (a costly, imported product) and drink wine from bowls, while their neighbours are poor, hungry and sick. They are so full of their own good times, they have not taken into account how their neighbours are living.
In New Delhi the poor beg on the streets. They come to the car windows at red lights, painfully rubbing their empty stomachs. They wait outside houses of worship. All hope for alms that will help to alleviate the daily grind of poverty.
My former congregation, Green Park Free Church in New Delhi, has found a way to respond. They now provide a well-attended free clinic for the poor. All are welcome and all receive love and care at the hands of the doctors and nurses, members of the congregation.
How are we responding to the needs of the poor in our neighbourhoods?
God of all, show us how to be merciful as you are merciful. Amen. — REJ