The Bible and the Poor
In light of the continuing misunderstanding of Pope Francis by the progressive media, it’s time to reconsider the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, 14:7. “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.”
This verse is echoed by verse 15:11 in Deuteronomy, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor…”
What on earth does this mean? The poor you will always have with you. How can that fact stated by Jesus be, when the progressive ideology and the advocates of social justice argue that it’s government’s job to abolish poverty and further income equality?
Maybe Jesus was referring to the “poor in spirit?” They could always be with us and that would not argue against a government from taxing and redistributing wealth. We know income equality may not bring happiness. You could make as much on your job as your neighbor, and still be poor in spirit.
The plain meaning of the words, “The poor you will always have with you,” doesn’t mean poor in spirit. The words refer to the real poor, those who live in poverty in the real, not the metaphorical world. It is those Jesus claims we can help at any time. It is those poor we must be openhanded toward.
So, how do we openhandedly help the poor? If the poor are going to be with us always, then the Marxist claim to abolish poverty by bloody revolution is an illusion. Government welfare programs furthered by the Democratic Party in the United States are also an illusion.
If we read between the lines, we see that the entire Democratic Party program to help the poor is misleading. The real aim of the party’s efforts is not to help the always with us poor, but to gain political power by telling those of goodwill a lie. It is a lie contrary to the teaching of Jesus. There is no greater treason than to do the right thing for the wrong reason.
What can we do at any time to help the poor? In the real world, the world Jesus came to redeem and to bless, there are three things we must do to help the poor. The first is acts of charity. The second is increased production. The third is to convert the nations of the world to the Judeo-Christian ethic.
It is the mission of Christianity to persuade the rich to be charitable. They must do this out of their own free will. Tax dollars taken by the government from the rich and given to the poor is not charity. It is theft. The Church cannot solve the problems of the poor by encouraging others to break one of the Commandments. To the degree Christians do not persuade the rich to be charitable, to that degree they have failed with their Christian message.
In the real world that Jesus came to save and bless, if Carlos Slim Helú, one of the richest men in the world, claims to be a Catholic, then he must help the poor in the real world of Mexico, not export them to the United States.
Beyond charity, to help the poor we must find ways to increase production of material goods. The poor are poor in many cases because they lack food, shelter, clothing, and the material things of life.
How do we increase production? One of the proven ways to do that is through an economy that operates in a free market and respects nature along with national borders. In that regard, capitalism has proven to be most successful.
Everywhere socialism and communism have been tried, all they have accomplished is to make the members of the party rich and powerful and make everyone else equal in their poverty. The darkness of North Korea as seen from space at night is proof enough of poverty.
Could it be that some nations of the world are poor because their cultural ways? The German sociologist Max Weber has argued that there is a connection between the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Beyond that, we also see as the Christian message spread through the nations, so did charity and wealth. Even Marx admits that British colonialism was one of the best things to happen on the Indian subcontinent.
When Jesus said the poor will always be with us, he was also telling us to open our hearts to charitable acts and to work hard. It was not a cry for the workers of the world to unite. Likewise, it was not a cry for income equality or social justice.
The wealthy will be held accountable for their lack of charity. The governments of the world will be held accountable if they hinder production. The poor will he held accountable if they do not work and live off welfare.
Furthermore, to know the poor will be with us is not to unjustly criticize the wealth of the Church. The Lord’s house is open to all. Often it holds the treasures of a community, freely given as an act of charity.
Jesus was not a Marxist. He was not preaching liberation theology. He told us to pray. “Give us this day our daily bread.” He encouraged us to be charitable and believe, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”