Questions Served in Context

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“From the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”  

Such a stark, lonely line. I imagine starving children, the last morsel of bread snatched away. I see an elderly widow, alone in a nursing home with no family to visit.  

Jesus’ words feel cold, dark. Unfair.  

All the more when taken with the preceding line: “To the one who has, more will be given.” The rich get richer, I think. Buy another home on another island. Watch your investments grow. Friends and family thrive and succeed.  

Ah, perhaps I should heed Jesus’ warning: “Take care what you hear.” And remember that Scripture is a dish best served in context.  

Because, while Jesus does say that those who have will get more, and those who have not will find themselves with less, there is a missing piece to this story. Paul fills in the blanks in his Letter to the Hebrews: “Rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly . . .” 

Indeed, if we encounter “one who has not,” then the question is why? And the follow up: What can give so that this person has what they need? How can I help this person recognize that which they already have—those gifts, passions, talents—and multiply them, use them for the common good? 

Perhaps Jesus’ wag of the finger isn’t addressed to those who seemingly have nothing, but to us, the ones who have allowed such injustices to last.  

© Liturgical Press.

Eric Clayton

Eric Clayton is a senior communications manager at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, specializing in Ignatian spirituality and storytelling.

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