‘If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it sunset, because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has.
What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate» (Exodus 22:26, 27, NM).
How many items of clothing did the children of Israel take with them on their long journey through the desert? God took care of their clothing and shoes so they wouldn’t wear out. At one point, He pronounced His laws of love and care for others and asked this question, «What else can they sleep in?»
There were clear instructions regarding the jubilee, the cities of refuge, social responsibility and many other things. (No wonder Balaam was impressed when he looked at the camp and saw so much order, discipline, and prosperity!) But on that occasion, God worried over what they would sleep in!
I vividly remember two images. First, I remember the heavy iron doors of a prison I visited when I was a teenager, as part of a Pathfinder Community Service activity. What I least expected was to meet some classmates who had been detained without us knowing. I’ll never forget the look of embarrassment on their faces, as well as their helplessness and pain when they recognized me.
Secondly, I remember the desperate cries of a child who had lost his toy car because another boy had just taken it away from him. It wasn’t a capricious cry. He lived alone on the streets, had few clothes and that broken toy car was his only toy and possession.
Sadly, the world is full of situations such as these, and others that are much more heartbreaking. And for some reason the question, «What else can they sleep in?» still rings in my ears.
We often forget the importance of caring for others and properly managing our assets and possessions.
«If men would do their duty as faithful stewards of their Lord’s goods, there would be no cry for bread, none suffering in destitution, none naked and in want. It is the unfaithfulness of men that brings about the state of suffering in which humanity is plunged’) (Welfare Ministry, ch. 1, p. 18).
When we show mercy, we are more like Jesus and can better reveal God ‘s character to this world.
Does anyone «without a cloak’) come to your mind?
Maybe that law given in Exodus so many years ago can be the guideline by which we act today.