It seems like every time we approach a new election period, unscrupulous politicians start belittling the poor and claiming that there is "massive fraud in the Welfare system" and that the poor are "milking the system." They actually have the nerve to blame the poor for the awful economy and perpetuate the myth that we are all living the life of luxury. Social Security payments, for those who worked enough to qualify, average $1,000 a month. Supplemental Security is a maximum of $560 a month.
The first thing I point out to anyone who will listen is that less than 3% of all entitlement monies that are paid out are given to able-bodied people who choose not to work, yet the entire demographic of poor people is painted with the idea that there are massive numbers of criminals who have managed to scam their way into "the system" and are getting rich. There is absolutely no proof of this, of course, but who needs proof when people are so ready to buy this rotten lie? Selfish people want to believe this because it justifies their reluctance to help the poor that they deem undeserving.
This readiness to believe these wild claims against the poor and to use them as justification for reducing or eliminating assistance is the antithesis of the Christian message.
Jesus says: "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, give him your coat as well."
Notice that he DOESN'T say to fight like the Devil to keep him from getting your coat, nor does he say that you should make sure that the person is deserving of your shirt or your coat. This particular quote is about one's enemy. How much more giving does Jesus expect us to be when it comes to His beloved poor? The Bible is full of references to our expected generosity toward the poor:
In Deuteronomy 15, it says, "Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land."
In Mark 10, when the rich man asks Jesus what he must do to follow Him, Jesus says, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
In Luke 6, He says, "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation."
Again, in Mark 10, He says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
Notice that, in our sinful world, it is the rich person who is given great credit and adulation, who is served and fawned upon. The rich feel superior because of this and look down upon the poor, making them squirm and cry for every pittance. The rich are loathe to give any of their riches to the poor, but instead take the money from the labors of the poor.
In Proverbs 19, we read, "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed." The Lord is watching how we treat the poor and will treat us with the same generosity we exhibit toward them.
In Matthew 25, we are told, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." When we defame the poor, we defame Jesus. When we help to supply the needs of the poor, we are supplying Jesus with what He needs.
In Luke 3, He says, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise."
In Luke 12, He admonishes his followers to "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions," telling them once more that the Christian life is not about how much riches one can retain.
In Proverbs 21, we learn that, "He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered." Enlightened self-interest would be enough to encourage us to respond to the poor with compassionate kindness and to supply their need, what to speak of Christian charity and love!
Instead of listening to politicians who have their own agendas, we need to look to the Bible and to the Catholic faith for guidance in this matter of how we treat the poor.
As far as the rumors of "massive fraud" by the poor, that has not been proved. There are, however, criminals in every walk of life. The only difference between the rich criminals and the poor ones is that the rich steal MORE from us than the poor ever could. .It is ludicrous to punish 97% of the poor people because some of the remaining 3% might be dishonest!
Catholics, take note: Here is the official position of the Catholic Church with regard to the government's care for the poor:
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