Tuesday, March 10, 2015
GIVING ALMS TO THE POOR IS NOT CHARITY
"Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal
from them and deprive them of life. The goods we
possess are not ours, but theirs. The demands of justice
must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in
justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity." "When we
attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is
theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy,
we are paying a debt of justice."
~ CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, No. 2446
Once again, the tide of hateful rhetoric against the poor has risen, and I have to write another post to remind Catholics of what our faith teaches us, which is that whatever money or assets we possess beyond which is necessary for our own survival belongs to those who do not have enough for their survival. Read the catechism. "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life."
The internet can give us a horrible glimpse into the darkness of Satan's world, where the poor are characterized as "lazy and just waiting for a handout." In some Facebook posts, people complain that their tax dollars go to help the poor, robbing them of the ability to decide from themselves who is worthy and who is not. They advocate for the removal of the already inadequate systems we have in place to feed children, the elderly and the disabled and claim that individuals and the church will take over the care and feeding of millions of people. This is a fantasy.
Before Social Security and its associated social programs, individuals and churches already had the opportunity to take care of the poor and they didn't do it. Unless we want history to repeat itself, it is best to leave in place those systems that have prevented our country from looking like India, with millions of people living and dying on the street or in tiny shacks made of corrugated tin.
I exhort my brothers and sisters to stop worrying about whether or not some "lazy" person will slip through the system and receive the gigantic sum of $240 a month, which is the amount of welfare paid to able-bodied persons in New Mexico - a sum they have to pay for by working at least 20 hours for the state.
Millions of people are under the ridiculous assumption that scores of able-bodied people are making a killing on "welfare." It simply is not true. If you are an able-bodied person and you have a child and the household is poor, then the child can receive about $540 a month, food stamps and Medicaid, but the parents, if able bodied, receive NO MONEY other than the afore-mentioned $240 a month, for which they must work. If poor enough, they may receive food stamps of about $80 per person, but even the spending habits of those with food stamps are criticized right and left. Have you been to the grocery store lately? What, exactly, can you buy with $80?
The reason why that woman paying for groceries with food stamps is wearing a piece of jewelry or has a cell phone is that someone else purchased it for her. Family and friends have to step in and supply some of the needs of the poor because the miserly sums they receive are simply not enough. In my case, nearly everything I own was given to me or left behind by the previous tenant in this apartment. My apartment is adorable and I have internet and cell phone, thanks to my friends Jane, Betty, Kathy, Debbie, and my sister, Shauna. I have a car, thanks to my friend Judy, who GAVE me her old car when she bought a new one. Although very low income, I don't qualify for food stamps, so some of my friends help me with some food items. I can't imagine what it is like for those whose income is less than mine.
We have more than 40 million poor people in our country right now. More than half of them are elderly. Another 20% are severely disabled. At least 18% are what is called "the working poor" who are living on minimum wage. Less than 3% of people who received entitlement income are able-bodied people that are not in the previous three categories. Within that percentage is contained the vast number of unemployed in our country who are receiving unemployment insurance.
The most shocking statistic of all is that one out of every four children in America goes to bed hungry every night. I am going to repeat that so you can meditate on it. One out of four children goes to bed hungry in America every night.
When you criticize the poor, you are making it more difficult for these children to get the food, housing and education they need. When you criticize the poor, you encourage people to be more stingy. When you criticize the poor, you paint a huge number of people with a brush that only belongs to a tiny minority.
Where are these lazy people who are just sitting around waiting for a handout and then buying luxury items with the boatload of money they get from the state? I will tell you where they are. They are in the imaginations of people who lack charity and generosity of spirit. Some of them, sad to say, are Catholic. Participating in this poor-bashing that is so popular right now is participation in the plan of Satan. Just stop it.
Silver Rose Parnell