Poor people don’t love their children any less.
It feels like an offensive statement to make. “Well, of course they don’t!” we think to ourselves. “Who would ever imply such a thing?”
And then we find ourselves in line at Walmart behind a mom with her three little ones. Their clothes are worn; certainly clean, but obviously second-hand. The littlest one is crying. The oldest is trying to console her. The middle child looks at us with a funny expression, as if he’d love to be mischievous at this moment, but knows from experience it’s not the right time. The frazzled mom is trying to keep them all contained as she pulls the WIC card from her pocket. We see the worried look on her face. Will there be enough to pay for everything? Or, like last time, will she need to sheepishly leave something behind?
Mary and Joseph brought with them two young pigeons for the purification ritual in the temple. It was the “poverty clause” of Leviticus; if the parents couldn’t afford a lamb and a pigeon, two pigeons would do. From our 21st-century seat, we would never think that Jesus’ parents loved him any less for doing their humble best to be obedient. But I wonder… how do the other people gathered in the temple that day feel about the meek parents with their simple offering?
The mother in line catches us staring. She sees us making assumptions about her life, and we are uncomfortable. It’s not that we really think she loves her babies any less. It’s just that… well… why didn’t she wait until she could afford a lamb?
Source: M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The People’s New Testament Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press), 2004.
What would it look like if we were willing to be honest about the judgments we make about the people around us? Would we learn to let judging go?
God who sees the real me and loves me anyway, I pray to have your eyes. Amen.