1 September 2011
David, The undisputed slingshot champion of the ancient world who grew up to become king, expressed a vision of what a good government should do. “Endow the king with your justice . . .”, David prayed, for the king will
deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
– Psalm 72
King David was a firm believer in government entitlements.
A thousand years later, a descendant of David called Jesus spoke about how good nations and bad nations treat their less fortunate citizens. The world’s nations, said Jesus, are to be gathered before him on the last day, the good nations on his right and the bad nations on his left. To the good nations he says,
I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed
clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you
looked after me, I was in prison and you came to
– Matthew 25
The good nations will point out that they have no record of ever having rendered these services to Jesus. But Jesus tells them their records are in error. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
To the good nations on his right Jesus gives his most generous blessing. When he casts his gaze on the bad nations to his left, they don’t make out quite so well.
Now, no one has ever proved that Jesus wore overalls. But there’s no doubt that in his career as a human being Jesus was a hard working man of humble origins and soaring ideals. He saw compassion and generosity as the highest virtues attainable by men or by nations. He lived, ate and played with poor sinners like us. And along with his great, great ancestor David, he scorned those whose greed for wealth or power moved them to ignore the troubles of the people.
Can you explain, then, how it happens that many of Jesus’ followers in politics today say that this great nation should extend more tax cuts to the rich, but that it can’t afford to continue entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, AFDC and universal health care?
Leave a comment if you take a notion.