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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Day Laborers

"You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer." Lv.19:11

When I was a boy my father was paid twice a month, and although his wage allowed us to pay our rent and eat, it was very modest. In those months when his second paycheck was withheld over a weekend because the month ended on a Sunday, it was especially difficult for my mother who had to stretch every penny. Every time I read Leviticus I think of my parents and offer a prayer in gratitude for the sacrifices they made for me and my siblings, but I also have some guilt.

It is too easy to forget the poor, especially when we keep insisting that the poor are being paid an adequate wage. That most of us have more than we need does not seem to impact us very deeply. Some may even claim that they deserve everything they have since they risked they capital and should be rewarded for the "danger" to which they exposed themselves.

But Leviticus is clear. Do not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer. Even 3500 years ago, people realized that those who hired themselves out a day a time needed to be treated justly. Today is no different.

Today, pray for those without work, for the underemployed and for those who are underpaid.

What do you think are our obligations to the poor as a people of faith?

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