Jesus was God’s son, his incarnation in human form who was born poor, lived poor and died a poor man. He was the harbinger of good news for the poor. As such, Jesus expressed great love and care for the impoverished.
Here is a collection of quotes from the New Testament about how we must treat the poor in our society:
- Luke: 6-20-21: in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his disciples: The poor are blessed as they will inherit the kingdom of God. Those who are hungry now will rejoice as they will have their fill in heaven. Also, those who weep now will laugh in the future.
Thus, Jesus brings good news for the poor; they may suffer in this world, but they have great riches stored for them in heaven. So, in God’s scheme, there are good things awaiting those who suffer in this world, especially if they are harmed in God’s name.
- Luke 4: When Jesus came to Nazareth, he proceeded to the synagogue on Sabbath, as per the custom. He started to read when the scroll of Isaiah was presented to him. He opened the scroll and read out: The spirit of God was upon him because he had been anointed to bring good news to the poor. Jesus said he was sent to proclaim freedom to the captives, heal the blind, release the captives, and to proclaim the year blessed with the favour of the Lord.
Thus, Jesus expressed his concern for the poor, the oppressed and the suffering.
- Mathew 25: Jesus said that he will return on Judgment Day to separate the good from the bad.
All people will be given a place either on the right or left of Jesus as per his judgment. He will tell the people on his right: “you are blessed by God to inherit the kingdom of God. Because, when I suffered hunger, you provided me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger to you, and you made me welcome, and when I was naked, you provided me clothing. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you mad me happy by visiting me.”
There is no other passage in the Bible where our duties to our fellow beings have been clearly explained. Jesus says that when he returns on Judgment Day, he will evaluate us on the basis of our actions to fellow beings. He calls all those blessed and in favour with God, who took care of the poor, oppressed and suffering. For, he says, when you serve all such people, you are in fact serving me. Thus, Jesus says that we must recognize in our fellow humans the face of God. Only then can you claim a place on the right side of Jesus on judgment day.
- Mark 10: Jesus was once questioned by a young man on what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied that one should keep all the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament. The young man said that he had kept all the Ten Commandments all his life. Jesus was filled with love for the youth and said, you need to do one more thing: sell all your possession and donate the money to the poor. Then come, follow me and you will have a great treasure in heaven. But hearing this, the young man went away, sad of heart for he was very wealthy.
In this episode, Jesus stresses the importance of not only following the great commandments of Moses but also of one’s duty towards the less privileged and poor around us. If we are attached to our wealth, we may become sad like the young man on hearing the words of Jesus. Jesus’ extreme call to give up all wealth is possible only for the most virtuous of us. But one can practice charity in our life as showing concern for our fellow beings.
- Mark 12: Jesus sat at the temple and observed people putting money into the treasury. Large sums were put in by many rich persons. A poor widow came by and put in two small coins worth a penny. Jesus addressed his disciples and said that this poor widow had given God much more than all others to this treasury. This is because, all had spared a fraction from their great riches, but she in her poverty had contributed all she had.
Thus, Jesus reveals that God is pleased with the offerings of the poor than the great contributions of the rich.
- Luke 14: Jesus was attending a dinner at the house of a Pharisee. He said to all of the guests: when you hold a feast, do not invite your brothers and friends or rich neighbours and relatives so that you may be invited to feasts in return. But instead, invite for your banquets, the poor, the crippled and the lame. You will be blessed by God for though these cannot repay you; you will have great reward on judgment day.
- Luke 16: This is a parable told by Jesus. There was a wealthy man who lived a life of great luxury. At his gate, there was a beggar called as Lazarus who was hungry and was covered with wounds. He wanted to eat the leftovers from the rich man’s table, but he ignored the beggar. Now both died. Lazarus was carried to heaven while the rich man was condemned to the fires of hell. The rich man implored mercy from Abraham. But the patriarch said that you have had your fill of good things on earth, and Lazarus had his fill of bad. There is a great gulf fixed between the two of you which you cannot bridge. This parable is a warning for those who live unmindful of the poor around them.
- Luke 12: Jesus recounted another parable. A rich man received a good crop from his land. He decided to build bigger barns to store up all the grain. Meanwhile, I will eat, drink and be merry as I have stored up enough for the future, he thought. But God told him, “You foolish man. I will demand your life this very night. Of what use are the riches you stored up.” This is the fate of all those who store riches for themselves and not for God.
Thus, Jesus loved the poor dearly and also appreciated the rich, who have concern for their fellow human beings.