I’ve been wondering this….
Could you see it? Jesus walks into a public park and finds there are five thousand men (not counting women and children) just hoping to see him. Without a permit, mind you. He sees them and heals their sick (without a license) and hangs out for the entire day doing so. Sunset starts to approach and he’s reminded that those he healed and who are here to see him and listen to him are probably going to get hungry. Jesus is concerned and snags up the snacks that he and his best buds brought with them. He tells all those five thousand people to cop a squat and get cozy….at sunset, in a public park, with no permit for a public gathering, and certainly no food permits. He hands those snacks out to his buds and tells them to pass them around. And, he manages to feed everyone at the park. And then gets fined for public meeting without a permit, practicing medicine without a license and feeding the homeless (as surely some in the crowd were vagabonds given the sheer number; and, certainly most of them were far from home without a current roof over their heads).
Now, admittedly, the “Feeding of the Five Thousand” took place in a “solitary place” instead of the city streets; however, the fact of the matter is – he fed those people. He healed those people. He didn’t sit there and come up reasons for the people to feed themselves – as the disciples were wont to do (Matthew 14:15). Instead, he told them not to be making people move on, instead feed them (Matthew 14:16). They tried to find reasons why that would be impossible (vs 17) and Jesus kicked them in their butts and told them to not be so stingy and make it happen (vs 18-21).
If Jesus could do that for the five thousand men and who knows how many women and children out of the pocket scraps of the men with him….why is it that we are not encouraging each person in this “Christian country” to go out and share what little we can (or what largest we can) with those who are in need? Instead, we are behaving more of a country of Sadducees and Pharisees….or of disciples that can’t seem to remember the words – and, even more importantly actions – of the man a “CHRISTian” country should be emulating.
I don’t once see anywhere in the Bible where Christ looked down on the homeless, downtrodden or poor. Instead, I see action after action of him lifting them up. Of him providing a hand where needed without guile, without demand for recompense, without anything other than genuine compassion and from a place of love.
Consider this…Jesus himself, according to Matthew and Luke “had nowhere to lay his head”. Yes, there’s bickering back and forth about what that means; but, think on this…with all the wandering he did, with his passing from town to town constantly on the move…it is more than likely he was being literal when he said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but, the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20 // Luke 9:58) Imagine, then – Jesus being in your town and on your streets.
Would you treat that man sitting with his dog any different if you knew it was Jesus sitting there? Would you treat that 90+ year old man handing out food to the indigent the same way if you knew he was Jesus? Would you tell him to drop the plate he was holding and demand to see his information so you can write up a citation for passing out food to the homeless? Would you make him face up to sixty days in jail or make him pay a fine for feeding the crowd gathered?
There are many places that are going farther than saying that individuals cannot hand out food. Many are placing serious restrictions on food banks/pantries that are tying their hands more and more as the years go by. All to “keep people safe”. Every choice they make that tightens regulations down more and more on the homeless (this does not necessarily relate to street people – anyone without a home is technically homeless) is always tagged with a “safety concern”. I cry shenanigans. I cry foul.
It really is sad to me that a country that is having so many trying desperately to say it is “Christian” is so epic in its failure in following its supposed role model. A country that is supposedly so free has so many restrictions on so many things that other “less free” countries take for granted.
I dare you to try and tell a Mexican that they cannot give a bit of food to a homeless person because it’s against the law. They’d stare at you like you’d lost your mind and then bust out laughing and do it anyway. Same thing in Italy (saw it many times where people would walk down the street handing out food to those who needed it).
Boy, would Jesus be spending an awful lot of time in jail if he were here today.