Volume 4, Issue 6, April 1996


In the second chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, we read of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. His parents made the "poor man's offering" of two turtle doves, which was allowed, according to Leviticus 12, when the family could not afford to offer a lamb. Jesus was born into a poor family.

Today, in our society there is a strong prevailing resentment towards helping our poor and unfortunate neighbours with welfare assistance. I hear people complaining that these people are getting something for nothing - at their expense. Many seem to feel the poor and unemployed are getting what they deserve.

Does anyone really get what they deserve? I have the misfortune of having a white skin which burns easily in the sun. However, it is advantageous for acceptance in the white, conservative society in which I live.

I did not deserve my education. People before me sacrificed and paid for schools and educational programmes to be available for me when I came along. Now I can keep the system up for those who follow me.

I don't deserve to travel as easily as I do, but those before me saved and worked to build our system of roads. It has made life so much more enjoyable and profitable for me. Now I must contribute for the ones to follow me.

As a probation and parole officer I came to know a lot of young people and adults who didn't deserve the upbringing they received, the lack of social skills and moral values, the ordeal of being an outcast at school and society, unwelcome in the church.

The many workers who have contributed their best working years faithfully to their workplace do not deserve being let go, dismissed like criminals, and ignored by their government and society.

All of us are recipients of the largess of the past. Much of what we possess was given us by our forefathers, the founders of churches, schools, freedom and democracy. Their self-sacrifice gave us our opportunities. Our overpowering emotion should be gratitude rather than selfishness.

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"Religion NOW" is published in limited edition by the Rev. Ross E. Readhead, B.A., B.D., Certificate of Corrections, McMaster University, in the interest of furthering knowledge and participation in religion. Dialogue is invited and welcomed.