Jesus Never Chastised the Poor: But He’d Have a Problem with Politicians and Wealthy Americans!

This reflection is now available in Daniel P. Horan, OFM’s book Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century: Selected Reflections from the Dating God Blog and Other Essays, Volume One (Koinonia Press, 2013).

4 Responses to “Jesus Never Chastised the Poor: But He’d Have a Problem with Politicians and Wealthy Americans!”

  1. If the politicians are the problem, how is increasing the amount of tax revenue going to change anything? Neither of the 2 major parties are going to do anything differently with that $$$. That’s not cynicism either. That is the way that it is.

    The top 1% of earners account for more than 20% of all federal and state taxes collected. Apart from the ridiculousness of that statistic, why would we tax them more? So we can get involved in another county’s political strife?

    Calling for and enacting higher taxes on the wealthy has been going on FOREVER. Poverty has continued to spread. Our lives have not been markedly improved by the Stimulus. We’re involved in more foreign conflicts now than when Bush was in office. Unemployment is higher.

    The poor in Jesus’ time were a different poor than today. I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of victims of the system. I know there are. But there are a TON of abusers of the system. I know college grads (some Bona grads) who when they lost a job went on unemployment until it ran out while living with their parents. Able bodied, perfectly capable of working a $10/hr job until something better comes along, but chose the path of freeloading.

    What good is pumping more revenue into a system that allows that going to do? A system that doesn’t have ONE department that operates solvent. A system that will sacrifice the lives of its citizens to protect resource interests half a world away. I cannot justify this government collecting one penny more in tax revenue than they do until special interests are completely eliminated from participating in the process or a party that doesn’t care about them is given power.

    If you’ve got a friend that’s really bad with money. Let’s say he’s got a gambling problem, or (better analogy) likes taking trips overseas so he can get expensive stuff for his friends. He keeps finding people to borrow money from, but keeps living the same lifestyle. This goes on for years and years until they all run out, and one day he comes to you and says, “I’ve got no more money”. What do you do?

    This system has to fail completely in order for change (especially the kind Jesus would want to see) to occur. If it means the dollar being worthless for the rest of my days, I can deal with that if it means the next generation gets a chance to do it correctly.

    But raising taxes is just giving money to the careless friend.

  2. thank you for this reflection – well said!

  3. Is it true that Our Lord never admonished the poor? Does having few material possessions somehow automatically make one a saint? Recall the parable of Matthew 25:1-13 – that of the “ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Five virgins were foolish and did not bring the oil they should have. The bridegroom (clearly Our Lord) says to them, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.”

    Or consider the famous parable that immediately follows this one: the parable of the talents. The Master (again, Our Lord) give each talents (meaning abilities AND material possessions). It is the one with the least talents who buries what he does have and produces nothing. This, the poorest man in the parable, receives this reproach: “You wicked, lazy servant…”

    Most poignantly, the Master (Our Lord) says, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

    It is very hard to reconcile these words of Our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew with the point of view given in this blog post. It is to mistake spiritual realities as merely material ones. And to use Peter Singer as a defense (the man is famous for saying that it is perfectly ethical to kill children up to two years old) while calling The Catechism not “intended to be a reference book of definitive authority” should not pass without notice. In fact, when the Catechism was issued in 1992 by Blessed John Paul II, he called it a “reference text” and “a statement of the Church’s faith and of Catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium.”

    Christianity is not merely about thrift and material generosity. Rather, it is about love–love for God, love for neighbor, and the practice of all the virtues: materially AND spiritually. Heaven may be filled with the poor, but it also has room for the wealthy–if they become holy. St. Thomas More, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and even St. Matthew himself were all men of great wealth and influence. But it was their holiness that paved the way to heaven for them.

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