Faith Matters: Guided by faith in the time of a pandemic
In unsettling times like these, where does one turn? What can one do to help? My favorite scripture gives me guidance.
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34 NAB). Instead of the Golden Rule found in the Synoptic Gospels wherein love of ourselves is to be our guide, in John’s Gospel we find the standard for love of others to be God’s love for us.
I do not have a medical background, so I cannot offer any help there. However, I know that Jesus had a preference for the poor.
As I write this article, Lycoming County’s unemployment rate is at 12.7%. Locally, schools, food pantries and others are valiantly striving to provide food for those in need including children, adults, and seniors. What more is to be done?
Fortunately, 15 years ago my wife, Mary, and I attended an advocacy summit hosted by Bread for the World in Washington, DC. Bread is a national, ecumenical organization that seeks bi-partisan support for programs to alleviate and eliminate hunger and poverty in our nation and the world. I regularly check the Bread website (bread.org) for guidance.
Currently, Bread is urging people of faith to focus on passage of an emergency increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) benefits.
SNAP is vital in supporting the most vulnerable, but also has a strong economic impact as every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates more than $1.59 in economic activity.
Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that the $1 billion in new SNAP benefits issued during a recession raised Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $1.54 billion and supported 13,560 jobs.
During this pandemic, we should ensure vulnerable people who are hit the hardest do not fall between the cracks of society.
I urge all you who to contact by email, mail, or phone Sens. (Bob) Casey and (Pat) Toomey, as well as Rep. (Fred) Keller.
Tell them that you want them to fully fund and support the Pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (P-SNAP) as they continue efforts on future stimulus packages.
More broadly, ask that they include enough funding to assist all those hit by this crisis here at home and abroad.
What else is to be done? Begin each day with “Love your neighbor as Jesus has loved you.” Then act accordingly.
Together, people of faith can make a difference.
Dan Doyle is a member of the Church of the Resurrection, Muncy