There are books of the bible that I turn to more often than others. Like everyone, I have my “canon within the canon,” so to speak. I love the gospels, but probably favor Luke for its insistence on Jesus’ preferential option for the least of these, for those on the margins. I also look to Romans for a theology of grace and to Philippians, where Paul exhorts a Christian community in Greece to encourage one another, to pray for one another, and to rejoice together. I have to say,I DON’T generally turn to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible book of Deuteronomy. I’ve always thought of the book as a book of laws. So somehow through the years, I’ve missed this gem of a text which was our scripture reading for Sunday:
7 If there is among you anyone in need,
a member of your community in any of your towns
within the land that the Lord your God is giving you,
do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted
towards your needy neighbor.
8You should rather open your hand,
willingly lending enough to meet the need,
whatever it may be. 9Be careful that you do not
entertain a mean thought, thinking,
‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near’,
and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility
and give nothing;
your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you,
and you would incur guilt.
10Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so,
for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.
11Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth,
I therefore command you,
‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’