Do not hold back from those who ask your help,
when it is in your power to do it.
Proverbs 3: 27
When I read this verse from today’s first reading in the Christian Community Bible translation, used in Bible Diary 2014, I was taken aback.
In the last few weeks I have been asked several times to help. There are two persons from the parish in hospitals; there’s a young girl who wants to study in Santa Rosa; there’s the young university graduate with a new child who is seeking work; there’s the woman I gave a ride to from a rural village who needed someone to listen to her marriage difficulties; and the list goes on to include the beggars in the street and more.
I don’t know how to respond. But I do try to listen and to treat them respectfully, often looking the street beggar directly in the face when responding.
This is a challenge I hope I never fail to take into account or solve by merely throwing money at someone or by failing to listen to their pleas.
But when I read the US lectionary’s translation (from The New American Bible) I was a little confused. It is not as challenging a translation. It reads:
Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim
when it is in your power to do it for him.
I checked other translations and most lack the bite of the Christian Community Bible translation. Only the Jerusalem Bible comes close:
Do not refuse a kindness to anyone who begs it,
if it is in your power to perform it.
The Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh puts it this way:
Do not withhold good from one who deserves it
When you have the power to do it [for him].
It is so easy to pick and choose your translation, looking for a way to blunt the challenge of the scripture and its challenge to my comfortable life.
So today I will again pray to God for the wisdom and the generosity to know how to respond to everyone who asks my help.