Sunday, November 26, 2017

Matthew 25: Leaders, You're Doing It Wrong

Today's Gospel passage from Matthew is probably one of the most famous of Jesus' sayings. It is the answer to all the evangelicals with their "What Would Jesus Do" bracelets:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?'  And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." --Matt 25:31-46

At this point, there are certain members of Congress, most notably my United States Senator Marco Rubio, who are also familiar with this part of Matthew's gospel; that is, if his staff has been passing along my post cards to him. And if not, some staffer in his office has problem never read as much scripture in their entire life. Since Senator Rubio has decided that he wants to appeal to the 'base' of the Republican Party by quoting the Bible in 140-character tweets, I have encouraged him to consider this message from well as countless other pieces of Scripture...when he votes for legislation that harms millions of people. Because if politicians and their 'base' are going to claim the mantle of Christ to do their dastardly deeds, they need to be aware how what they propose is not even remotely in the ballpark of what Jesus was all about.

Is taking away Americans' access to affordable health insurance coverage...allowing them to see specialists and have necessary life-saving surgeries as well as get routine physical keeping with the Matthew 25 narrative?

Is passing a tax plan that will result in the poor paying a higher percentage of their income to the federal government, graduate students being taxed for their work study which lowers their out-of-pocket tuition expenses, people on medical devices who are unable to work being forced to pay taxes on the equipment that keeps them alive...all so that the very richest among us can enjoy a lower tax rate and buy another yacht or Aspen villa...looking out for those who are strangers, sick, hungry or in prison?

Is undoing regulations that protect our food, water, and preventing banks and financial institutions from using predatory lending practices the actions of sheep or goats?

I'm sure there are members of Congress who are headed into their houses of worship this morning to be with their families one last time before heading back to Washington. Some of them attend churches that using the lectionary and thus they will hear these words read by a priest or Deacon or pastor or even a lay reader in some places. Will they hear these words and actually "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them"? Perhaps a few post cards from constituents might help.