Our world is not good to the poor, but we are not the first generation of humans to be at fault for this. In the Book of Sirach the author reminds his son that we are not to “rob…the poor man of his livelihood”, grieve him, anger him, exasperate him, and delay in giving to him, distress him (4.1-4). In v. 1 there is a poignant line: “…force not the eyes of the needy to turn away.” In v. 4 he tells his son not to turn away his face from the poor.

It is as if the author wants to make the point “Give to the poor and look them in their eyes.” Why? I think this humanizes the poor. I know when I see a beggar as a stop light and I don’t have change (or change I want to give) the first thing I do is avoid eye contact.