Pulpit Reflections by Father Donald Imming What should a Christian's attitude be toward the poor? The short answer to that question is that it should be the same as Jesus' attitude. And what was Jesus' attitude? A fair acquaintance with the four gospels, especially St. Luke's, would make it pretty clear that Jesus had a special love for the poor. Jesus says in one place: "Blessed are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God." (Luke 6/20) I believe one can go one step further and assert that Jesus had a positive bias toward the poor.
But how can either be justified? Doesn't God love everyone equally? Parents try to love their children equally. But sometimes a child might have a handicap of one sort or another. Parents will have a special love for that child � in fact need to have it, so that they can give the child the extra attention that he or she needs. So God too has a special love for the poor, because they have just such a handicap.
But how justify a bias? Certainly God cannot be biased toward anyone, can he? God having a bias for the poor is more understandable if we recognize as the Scriptures do that the world � the biblical word for sinful humanity � has a bias against the poor. Read the New Testament letter of James, an overlooked jewel in my estimation. Read chapter 5/1-6. But there are plenty of examples of how people are biased against the poor, how society and its structure are biased against the poor.
I would cite the current economic boom, which is being acclaimed the best in a long time. Only recently have the poor begun to share in it because of the unparalleled demand for workers. Usually when the unemployment figures get this low, the fed intervenes to slow the economy. The poor get left out. When this boom is over, who will be the first fired? Guess. What is the saying: The last hired and the first fired.
Secondly which localities usually have the best school systems? I realize that many factors go into a good school system, but one of the major ones is its economic base. If the tax base is good, that school can afford to pay teachers more, to have better buildings, better equipment, and so forth. A poorer school district cannot. Who gets the better education?
Thirdly the minimum wage today I am informed has less buying power than it did 20 years ago. The working poor live on the minimum wage at best, especially with the advent of workfare that has replaced welfare. Do you think you could eek out a living, especially if you were a single parent, on the minimum wage? But every time a move is made to raise it, strong political forces move into the picture to block it or to fight a delaying action.
Fourth, did you know that many of the nations of the world which we call underdeveloped are living in grinding poverty because of the huge debts they owe to richer nations like ours? We lent them large sums of money years ago to develop their economies. For a variety of reasons, one of them being they couldn't compete with the economics of richer nations, their economies faltered. They have been paying the interest for years and years without making a dent in the principal. To continue to pay banks the interest, they are unable to educate their children, and the poor go without assistance. To the richer nations' credit there is movement toward forgiving those debts which have been repaid many times over in interest payments.
It is not difficult to see how the deck is stacked against the poor. Is there any wonder that Jesus would be biased in their favor? Should not we be as well?