Friday, November 16, 2012

Can you Spare a Dime?

Recently I received an email from a Jewish friend, which read: "I finally figured out that the rule of Gemilut Hasidim is you should always do what is right - even if others do not. Tradition holds that a Jew must give to a beggar in the street when asked. Equally important, Jewish commentary insists that a beggar or poor person be treated with dignity. There are many reasons for this, but two stand out. By performing Gemilut Hasidim, people cultivate the divine qualities within them. Also important within Judaism is the notion that anyone who suffers diminishes every member of the community."

"Brilliant!" I emailed back, and thought, "vaguely familiar." So I started reading. What I discovered upon digging deeper into this Jewish rule of 'loving kindness' was a heritage that we as Christians and Catholics draw richly upon as well.

First, we recognize God as the Master of Charity - that He sustains all creation through His acts of kindness and that as recipients of this kindness, we emulate Him when we act in a like manner to one another. If we recognize that we are totally dependent on this loving Creator, that everything we have is a gift from Him and we own nothing of ourselves, then pride and feelings of superiority are non-existant - we give, we share, with the same reckless and selfless abandon.