Today’s first reading
) contains strong words from the Lord.
Many of us, sadly, do not really listen to these words, but rather filter them through our own political and economic viewpoints: perhaps rationalizing them away, perhaps directing them against our favorite villains.
Each of us should read these words again carefully: applying them to our own lives; getting past ideology, rationalization, and demonization; focusing on our personal imperatives of justice, charity, and what is truly good."You shall not molest or oppress an alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.
If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.
My wrath will flare up,
and I will kill you with the sword;
then your own wives will be widows,
and your children orphans.
"If you lend money
to one of your poor neighbors among my people,
you shall not act like an extortioner toward him
by demanding interest from him.
If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge,
you shall return it to him before sunset;
for this cloak of his
is the only covering he has for his body.
What else has he to sleep in?
If he cries out to me, I will hear him;
for I am compassionate."