A Monet Painting

In June 2005, I gave a talk and showed part of Endless Exodus (a film on the plight of undocumented migrants) at a luncheon of the Inter-Religious Council of Southern California. The gathering of Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, and Christian leaders was held at the Board of Rabbis offices in downtown Los Angeles. I ended my improvised talk with the following scripted remarks penned for the occasion:

I want to leave you with this thought. Think about a painting by Monet. If you were to get very close to it, all you would see are random daubs of paint, imperfect looking individual brush strokes. Yet when you step back from the canvas, you see fields of beautiful flowers. Each of us her, representing different faiths, different denominations, are like those imperfect brush strokes of a Monet painting.

The essence of a Money painting is its organization, the combination of hundreds of individual strokes of paint working in harmony to create something beautiful. And that is what we are called to do: to work in harmony to bring hope and healing to those who are suffering from the cruel effects of chronic, unjust poverty. At the foundation of all our different faiths is compassion. We show our love for God by how we treat the least of God’s children, no matter their faith or lack of any faith.

This involves more than giving our spare change. We need to go out and embrace the anawim in our midst, embrace the poorest of the poor, those completely overwhelmed by want, without voice or rights in their surrounding community.

The Jewish scriptures makes it abundantly clear that to forget the anawim if to forget God. Jesus made care of the anawim a litmus test for our love of God. As Elie Wiesel said: “When someone suffers, and it is not you, they come first. Their suffering gives them priority. To watch over another who grieves is more urgent than to think about God.”

May God bless you and give you peace.

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