Monday, September 7, 2015

Brief Thoughts on Catholics and Treating Social Justice as a Partisan Concern

Lazarus at Rich Mans house(Lazarus at the Rich Man’s House (Luke 16:19-31):
Our Lord does have some things to say about concern for the Poor)

It is enlightening to see the Pope and bishops speak out on our obligation to help the poor and the refugees, regardless of their legal status. At the same time it is tragic to see so many Catholics online attack them for doing so. Too many people treat this issue as if it was a political policy debate and accuse the Pope and bishops of behaving as supporting liberal factions of the United States and Western European politics.

The danger to our souls seems to be that we are treating as political issues, what actually was taught by Our Lord. The Old Testament is full of warnings about not neglecting or mistreating the poor, the widows, the orphans and the aliens among the Israelites. In the New Testament, Jesus Himself and His apostles after Him also warned about not neglecting them or treating them as less important.

As Jesus told us, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15), and in His teachings (such as the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats and the Parable of Lazarus), we see warnings about the judgment of those who who could have helped them but turned a blind eye.

41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 *Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  (Matthew 25:41-46) 

Now that is not to say that Sr. Joan Chittister was right in her partisan screed which is so popular among pro-abortion types today. The claim that someone who is truly pro-life is pro-high taxes is to take the Church teaching and turn it into partisan politics. People can, in good faith, disagree about the best ways to fulfill the Lord’s commands on caring for the poor. However, we cannot disagree in good faith as to whether we have to care for “these least ones,” regardless of whether they are poor or refugees, or even drug addicts and illegal immigrants. The rich man couldn’t be bothered by a sick and starving beggar sitting on his front step, so sick and weak that he can’t even fend off the dogs licking his sores. He went to hell for his lack of concern for the “least of these.” ("Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.” Luke 16:25)

Yes, there are many valid concerns over how to best help the people in need while not enabling wrongdoing, but we can’t let that concern blind us into not acting at all. Partisan politics today are as if the crew of a ship were arguing over what policy to take over struggling survivors of a shipwreck in the water. The Church is saying, “Yes we can worry about that—but right now, why don’t we THROW THEM A FREAKING LIFE PRESERVER AND GET THEM OUT OF THE WATER?"

We should keep these things in mind and not accuse the Pope of being a “Marxist” for reminding us of Our Lord’s commands on the topic.

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