The Undeserving Poor

One of the many things I love about the Lord’s Prayer, the subject of today’s gospel (Matthew 6. 7–15), is the fact that it reminds us that we are all poor, all equally undeserving of God’s love and care. It is He, and He alone, who gives us everything. When we pray, it is because He has first poured prayer into our hearts. When we do anything at all, it is because He has given us both mind and body with which to think and act. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we are mere robots, programmed by some super intelligence to perform certain tasks in a way determined for us by another. On the contrary, we have been given free will. We have been enabled to choose for ourselves. That leads to a paradox. We stand before God with empty hands, the undeserving poor, yet, at the same time, we are blessed with a freedom the poor of this world do not know, the freedom to choose. We are both rich and poor at the same time. How we use our riches, and how we use our poverty, is up to us.

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3 thoughts on “The Undeserving Poor”

    • I thought I had! No one has a right to God’s love or care. Everything comes as gift, but the sense of entitlement one sees in society generally (‘because I’m worth it’ is amusing, but has an edge to it) can also affect those who claim to have a more religious outlook on life. That is why I used the term — to make us all think. It is particularly effective in the UK where distinctions between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor as recipients of relief/charitable help were often made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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