Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
-Matthew 25:34-40, KJV
In my last post, I wrote about the Mayor’s effort to circumvent the regulatory process and flatly ban feedings in public parks. This order comes alongside the continuing effort of the Board of Health to ban such feedings in public more generally, through a system of onerous permitting and licensing. Since then, Occupy Philly joined with other groups to hold a public feeding of hundreds before the Board of Health’s meeting last week. The Board’s meeting minutes are not yet available, nor is a codified regulation, nor an executive order.
However, the response from Philadelphians has been overwhelming. Hundreds of comments follow news stories and Facebook posts, the overwhelming majority in solidarity with our hungry neighbors and opposed to the Mayor’s misguided plan. Yesterday, the Simply Way community in Philadelphia released a statement on the ban.
While expressing agreement with the hope that one day homelessness will be eliminated, and concern for sanitary standards, the statement readily identifies the heart of the issue. The ban “create[s] bureaucratic barriers to compassion” and restricts our freedom to follow Jesus in caring for the most vulnerable. It also echoes the remarks of City Council Member Ms. Blackwell in pointing out that the licensing requirements would have punished Jesus for his miracle feeding of a hungry crowd with a few fish and loaves of bread. Finally, the Simple Way points out that “as long as folks are hungry we cannot NOT share.” May we all be as committed to ending hunger as it fades from the spotlight of media attention and protests.
I will continue to post updates with plans for going forward. There are upcoming meetings to decide direction and strategy. If you would like to be invited, email me or comment and I will provide you with the necessary information. Until then, please:
- Pray unceasingly for an end to hunger and injustice (a recommended portion of a Psalm is included below to assist in prayer).
- Continue to share your resources.
- Engage in public conversation (by writing the Mayor, City Council, and the Board of Health) and private conversation about our values as a society and our obligations to the hungry.
- Consider giving to an organization working to end hunger in Philadelphia.
O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
Psalm 107:1-9 KJV