We in Canada are enduring a federal election campaign that most Canadians did not want, but that the loyal (HA) opposition and cronies insisted upon. They collapsed the house theoretically because of the budget, which by the way included all the things that both Liberals and NDP wanted. However, what they and the Bloc wanted even more was a run at more power, so they crashed parliament and forced the taxpayers into underwriting the 350 million and change for an election.
I will vote because I belong to the 'use it or lose it' club, but I am not at all involved in the whole thing except to give my opinion when asked. You may find it in the first paragraph.
The whole thing taking place during Lent has me remembering some points made by some of my association.
Activist priests, nuns, and laypersons like to say that Jesus was political because he openly challenged the leaders of his day. I don't know about that. He certainly challenged the chief priests, Pharisees, and so forth. But political? Just a cursory read through the New Testament will harvest such things as:
- He said to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's but to render unto God that which is God's. In my view, that is a clear instruction not to get the two mixed up. Serve God and serve man as Christ, in your own time with your own treasure. Share your goods and your time with those less fortunate. Let Him change your heart so that you learn to do it willingly and with joy. Don't depend on government and legislation to force you and others.
- Jesus told us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, comfort the prisoner, care for the sick. He did NOT tell us to pick up placards and protest in large mobs.
- Whenever the crowd wanted to make a secular leader of him, he escaped and got the heck away from there. This wasn't what he had in mind. He is King of Heaven, of our hearts if we allow it, and of our souls. He did not campaign to be placed on a ballot. He probably knew what a hash we would make of it anyway as history has shown.
- His response to Pilate was that his kingdom is NOT of this world. We know from all of the prophets that his secular kingdom will only be instituted when he returns. In the meantime, we are on our own. However, if we let him into our hearts and let him guide us, we would be fine.
We have it all so backwards. Jesus wanted us to have a change of heart that would spur us to give and share what we have. He knows that forcing it through legislation brings resentment and anger and that rather than helping the poor or the disenfranchised, it actually winds up hurting them in the long run. It also makes the rest of us spiritually lazy and financially sneaky. Why should I help when the Nanny state will look after it? Why should I care when there are inept government programs to do that for me?
Outside our parish at the cathedral sits a beggar each week, a lovely man who reads and obviously has some sort of health problem. He is a gentle man with a very kind heart and we have grown very fond of him. I will call him 'Joe' for the purposes of this post. In our parish is a man who often lectures Joe about sitting outside begging when there are programs to prevent this sort of activity. In other words, the parishioner doesn't want to see the face of poverty. He wants to pay his taxes and sit in his comfie spot at Mass to partake of a sacramental life with an untroubled conscience.
In a similar vein is the story Studly's former dentist, a devout Baptist, told him of a smelly beggar with some mental disability who wandered into their church one Sunday and asked a few folks for money. He wasn't invited to sit down. Nobody took the initiative to take him to the church kitchen for coffee and something to eat. He was escorted outside but he came right back in, whereupon the kind folks called the police to take the man away. The rational was that if they gave him any money or food, he would continue to come back and maybe bring friends. They would be overrun with those in need and be forced to share their Sundays with the unfortunate ones. The dentist made the point that for goodness sake, he paid enough taxes to look after these people. Why are they making pests of themselves?
What is wrong with this picture? Isn't there something in scripture about taking care to show hospitality to the stranger because we might be unknowingly entertaining angels? How about Jesus' reminder that what we do for the least of us, we do unto him? Conversely, to refuse to share what we have, even if it is during our church meeting, is to ignore Jesus himself. Spin it however we want, this is the bottom line.
Put down the protest sign, leave the crowd, then go buy a sandwich for a hungry person and keep him company while he eats it. Learn his name. You may feel a bit uncomfortable but you might meet an angel. You will definitely be serving God.
Oh - and as to the idea that we shouldn't give beggars money because they might buy booze or drugs, lets just leave that between them and God. Our job is to give with a glad heart. God will worry about the rest.