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January 26, 2014 

Jesus Teaches Compassion for the Poor 

Luke 16:19-31

While it may not be making headlines as it has in the past, the violence in Syria continues, with an estimated 100,000 people dead and 2.3 million who have fled to neighboring countries. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called a conference in Kuwait recently to help raise monies from the international community to supply water, food, medical help, and shelter to those affected by the now three-year civil war. The target amount is $6.5 billion. Half of the money will be used in Syria for programs established by the UN. The other half will be used for the refugees in the neighboring nations.

The United States has pledged an additional $380 million of aid, bringing the US total to $1.7 billion. While this help is desperately needed, it has been difficult to distribute due to the continuing conflict. The meeting also focused on the Syrian peace talks scheduled for January 22. Secretary-General Ban said, “I hope this will launch a political process to establish a transitional governing body with . . . full executive powers, and most importantly, end the violence."

We may never know how many deaths were caused by the lack of food, shelter, and clean water. Whenever war breaks out, basic distribution systems fall apart; and those with the greatest need are left to fend for themselves. There is little to no help because the problems of war often cause people to become selfish, only looking out for themselves and those closest to them. While war or crisis tends to increase the problem, too often we ignore those who are in need around us on a routine basis. We become so consumed in living our lives that we miss the fact that some people are having trouble simply living.

Jesus parable recorded in Luke 1:19-31 points to an unnamed rich man who regularly ignored a poor man named Lazarus. Ultimately, his avoidance resulted in his eternal torment. In John 12:8, Jesus tells us that the poor will always be among us. Jesus himself was born to a poor family in an out of the way land that had faced war and crisis. We have a responsibility and a privilege to minster to those in need, not avoid them. Our compassion for those in need is a way to connect with God and extend the love of God. Jesus calls us to a life of caring for the poor.

  1. What do you think is the solution for Syria? Should the United States continue to send humanitarian aid to this nation?
  2. What does your church do for those who are poor? How can your church better serve the poor in your community? nation? world?
  3. What are creative ways that your class can get more involved with the poor in your area?
  4. How have you and your family committed to serve those in need?


Reverend Lou Hornberger is the pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.

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