Thursday, August 01, 2013

Jesus and Food Stamps

Just For the Record

Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Peter said, "You know that I love you."
Then, "Feed my sheep".
A second time Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Peter said , "Yes, you know that I love you."
Then "Feed my lambs".
A third time Jesus asked Peter; "Do you love me?"
Peter was hurt. 
This was now the third time Jesus asked this question.
Jesus must have had his doubts.
Jesus must have wondered if his followers would take seriously the mandate to feed the poor.
After all it was the same Jesus who said, "I have come to bring Good News to the Poor". 
That Good News was not about words.
It was about action and deed.
Peter was hurt.
But Jesus had to make his point.
"Feed my sheep". 

For the record, you can read the story for yourself here.

I cannot help but wonder how cutting food stamps fits into this equation.
Can any "Christian" politician explain to me how this fits into the Gospel of Good News to the Poor.

Much of what is happening in budget cuts and "sequestration" sounds like very bad news for the poor. Seen from the point of view of the One who commended generosity and sacrifice to us, it is very bad news indeed. 

Explain it to me. 
How can you turn your back on the poor?

Fr Paul


Sally said...

The only sense I can ever make of it is that some people are determined to believe most poor are that way due to weakness or error of their own. And the corollary, that they don't have to be that way if they would just "shape up."

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, so this is not my view, but I would like to let you know what "the other side" thinks to play devil's advocate.
Yes, some think as Sally says, that the only people who are poor are lazy, and that anyone who just put a little effort forth would not need any government assistance.
In addition, some think that it is not the government's job to take care of people. They are sorry that there are poor people, and agree that "we" should help feed the hungry, clothe the naked, aid the sick, etc., but that it should be voluntary, not required. The fact that the government "steals" from citizens "at gun point" (and yes, I've explained to those who hold this view that this is not the case, but reality doesn't fit into their world view) is a greater injustice than the mere fact that there are poor people in the world. After all, Jesus said there would always be poor people, so if we completely redistribute the wealth, isn't that going against what Jesus said?
Remember, this isn't what I think; I'm providing the Devil's Advocate view. Rightly named IYAM.

Elizabeth said...

But it seems to me, that the ones who most loudly proclaim we were founded as a Christian, are the ones who give the arguments Anon 7:05 gave. If we were founded as a Christian nation how does their argument hold water. (BTW we were not founded as a Christian nation). Jesus said "feed the hungry". He didn't put any qualifiers on that.

Bonnie said...

Elizabeth, the ones who proclaim that we were founded as a Christian nation and that it is not the place of the government to help feed the poor and that the poor deserve to be poor are not exactly the type of people who check facts or worry about making rational sense. They are the type who think that whoever shouts loudest wins the argument and there's no sense in arguing with that.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, but I think you are failing to use the verse to its full impact. Surely you know that Jesus didn't asked three times only to receive the same answer. You need to break it down into how Peter answered first with the lowest form of love, as in yes I will be an aquaintance, then followed by yes I will be a mate, then finally by yes I will LOVE them. Three forms of love, not just Jesus stuttering or suffering from hearing failure. God bless

Princess said...

Goodness gracious folks...I am on food stamps. You got a problem w/that??? Then, dialogue w/me, I'll give you the lowdown. However, I WILL ONLY respond to respectful & mature feedback/questions. TY, C.

Bob said...

For some reason, perhaps it has to do with our cherishing the "pioneer spirit" we in the USA have this concept of the deserving poor. I as a welfare worker and food stamp worker heard over and over from the landlords who rented substandard housing, from the people behind a client in line, from my neighbors and yours, "these folks don't want to work. Why should we subsidize them?" We forget the number of pioneers who died in passage to the West, we forget the number who starved waiting for the Mayflower to return with food. Christ asks, why must they suffer, when you have more than you need? When I ask that, I am scorned.

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Thanks all for your conversation. As a "simple" parish priest of the emerging inclusive and progressive church, I can tell you this...nobody I have met in my 41 years of parish ministry ever choose to be poor, or gay, or old and sick, or dying or broken by grief etc.etc. etc. All these things just happen to us along the way. I've done my best; built a homeless shelter, expanded a soup kitchen, a food pantry, provided housing for battered women and their families. They didn't choose this either. I know what it is to be caring of others. I reserve judgment and leave that up to my Boss. But I will say this...lost of "Christian" churches out there did not want their churches sullied and soiled by the poor, the homeless, the hungry and so forth. Lets face it...there's nothing the least bit attractive about poverty. Not only as an Episcopal priest, but just as a human being with a kind heart, I could not in good conscience, look the other way. NO! I will live and die as one who cares for those who are in need. And I will provide for those needs as best as I can. "For when I was hungry you gave me something to eat". It is as simple as that. Notice to that Jesus says this is how he will judge the NATIONS (Matthew 25:31ff)...purely and simply on the basis of how we treat the "least of these"...Christians...and Americans take note! Peace...

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

For the record anon the word for love in John 21 is "filio" and it is repeated 3 times to make the point exactly as I have set it forth here. And the point is "Feed my sheep!"

Elaine Rhoades said...

I believe we should help the poor. However, I believe that not all people on welfare or food stamps are there because of life circumstances. Some are there because they don't want to work. Some are there because they prefer drugs or alcohol to food. Some are there simply for what they can get free. Others, the deserving, are there because life is hard and their ability to move out of the system is hampered by life's circumstances. These are the few who need the help, but would rather be self-independent. Yes, we should help, but we should not enable. We need better checks and measures to ensure those who truly need the help get the help and those who make their way by living off others because they are too lazy or too self-indulgent do not reap the benefits afforded to the truly needed.

Jay Beck said...

I think the problem becomes what is "want." A lot of people on food stamps suffer from drug addiction, not drug "want." Drug addiction comes from a whole other set of circumstances that arise from poverty. The real problem from food stamps is not the people themselves that are a drain on the system, but the corporations that don't see a living wage as a right. The corporations that don't pay their workers enough are the biggest drain. There are also other issues that surround poverty such as education and motivation and self esteem, a lot of these problems are epistemological and are not simple.