Num 5-6; 1 Cor 16; Psalm 97-98
Thinking as we did yesterday about living in the light of the Resurrection, Paul gives instructions for the collection for the needs of the Saints. It is very hard to imagine the generosity he calls for from the church – that they put aside everything beyond their simple costs of living.
In many respects this is allied to Paul’s perspective of the Church as a community of care – that the needs of the faithful are looked after by the faithful. How different is this to our mindset, where we do not think for a moment about laying up treasures against the future – that there might be no-one to look after us, so we must secure ourselves. Life for those Corinthian Christians was far far far more fragile than anything someone having the means to read this post will in all likelihood know – but their security was to be found in Christ who was their common life. That their shared life was Christ, the care of Christ was expressed in and through the body, in physical expressions of love.
So after you have taken what you need for food and shelter needs – give away the rest, for to be sure their will be Saints who have neither food nor shelter – and what can be said of the one who rich in this world’s goods, knows his brother and sister to be in need and does not share with them out of his or her abundance. As St John says, ‘how can the love of God abide in him?’ And the only reason the love of God does not abide in us, is that we do not abide in the Love of God – however fondly we may think otherwise. Love has teeth – it changes things. Love raises the dead – what else is there to fear?
We find wonderful expression of this in the last part of the reading from Numbers – with the words of the priestly blessing – reminder that God is the one who blesses – we only need empty hands – we only need to empty our hands – to receive.