White American Evangelicals and Catholics Hate Children: They Hate Jesus!

babyjail

Readings for 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

What’s the worst thing you can do to a child? What’s the worst form of child abuse?

No, it’s not abusing them sexually, though that’s bad enough. Of course, pedophilia is the horrendous crime so many Catholic priests have committed from time immemorial. It is nearly unspeakable in its selfish cruelty. It deserves absolute contempt and condemnation.

However, the worst crime is not sexual abuse. No, it’s separating children from their parents. A little introspection about your own children or grandchildren might tell you that. Picture them deprived of your presence and love — forever. Can you imagine having your child snatched from your paternal arms or from your nurturing breast?

Incredibly, that’s the crime committed by white Evangelicals who represent the largest constituency of Present Donald J. Trump. They commit it by their unconditional support of the one who has actually created baby jails. Yes, baby jails that permanently separate the most innocent creatures we can imagine from the ones that love them dearly. This crime tortures not only the babies, but their mothers and fathers too.

Of course, both Catholics and Evangelicals camouflage their misopedia by pretending to care about unborn embryos and fetuses – creatures for whom they cannot possibly exercise practical responsibility and whose parents tend to be “those others:” blacks and browns, immigrants and the poor in general. Opposing abortion represents what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” It’s costs the opponents absolutely nothing.

Yet, once the unborn come to term – once the newly born and young might cost taxpayers a few dollars – erstwhile Christian child-defenders disappear. They wash their hands of the whole affair. They effectively tell parents “Now you’re on your own, good luck.” They even oppose “Big Government” programs like SNAP and TANF that have proven in other countries to reduce abortions by significantly relieving the financial worries of new parents.

Worse still, patriotic Christians support killing the young by the hundreds of thousands and without a second thought. They do so in places like Yemen, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia. That’s the short list of killing fields where children are slaughtered mercilessly and on an hourly basis by “American” bombs effectively blessed by the “Christians” I’m referencing. (Secretary of State and devout Christian, Mike Pompeo, nakedly supports such slaughter because it’s good for the U.S. arms industry.)

All of this conflicts with the portrayal of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading. There, Jesus embraces a real child of the kind Trump-supporters show little concern about once the creatures advance beyond fetal status.

This is how Mark describes the episode: “Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.’”

In fact, Jesus uttered not a word about abortion. But Mark’s portrayal speaks volumes about Jesus’ attitude towards the kind of children Catholics and Evangelicals tend to hate. He could not have been clearer In his absolute identification with them: “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

To repeat, in doing that Jesus is not embracing a fetus, but an actual living child about whose human status there can be no debate. Moreover, the child in question was probably of the type many opponents of abortion have little use for or sympathy with. After all today’s gospel scene takes place in Capernaum, the urban center that Jesus adopted as his home town after he was thrown out of Nazareth precisely because of his programmatic concern for the poor.

Remember: Jesus spent his time among the poor who represented his own origins. So, the child Jesus embraces was probably a smelly street kid with matted hair and a dirty face. He or she was probably not unlike the street kids found in any city today – the ones hooked on sniffing glue and who have learned to sell their bodies to dirty old men from way across town, and often from across the world.

I make all this supposition because the reason Jesus embraces the child in question is to present his disciples with a living example of “the lowest of the low” – God’s truly chosen people. In Jesus’ world, all children were at the bottom of the pecking order whose rabbinical description ended with “idiots, deaf-mutes and the young.” And among the young, street children without father or mother would indeed represent scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Embracing children like that doesn’t mean practicing “tough love,” nor forcing impoverished mothers to bring their children to term and then telling them “You’re on your own.” Rather, embracing poor children – truly being pro-life – means creating a welcoming atmosphere that receives children as we would receive the Jesus who identifies with them in today’s gospel.

Yes, it suggests supporting those “Big Government” programs that work so well elsewhere – the programs Donald Trump and his supporters are hell-bent on eliminating.

Remember all of that when you hear your pastor’s sermon on abortion this Sunday. Remember it when you cast your vote on November 6th.

Jesus again Makes Fun of The Silly Rich (Sunday Homily)

funny-rich-people

Readings for 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time: AM 8:4-7; PS 113: 1-2, 4-8; I TM 2:1-8; LK 16: 1-13

Jesus loved telling stories that made fun of rich people. He’s at it again in this morning’s gospel.

You can imagine the delight such parables brought Jesus’ audiences of poor peasants, fishermen, beggars, prostitutes, and unemployed day laborers. They surely chuckled as he spun tales about “stewards” who couldn’t dig a hole in the ground if their life depended on it or who were mortified at the very thought of begging. They’d laugh about rich landowners storing up grain and dying before they had a chance to enjoy their profits. They knew what Jesus meant when he mocked pathetically avaricious landlords getting angry when their money managers failed to increase their bank accounts while the boss was away attending parties. They’d shake their heads knowingly when Jesus mocked heartless employers who reaped where they didn’t sow.

Jesus’ listeners would have found today’s story especially entertaining. After all it featured an accountant who cheated his wealthy employer. And then the rich guy ends up appreciating the accountant’s dishonesty. Men and women in Jesus’ audience would have nudged each other and smiled knowingly at the tale.

“That’s the way those people are,” they’d laugh. “They’re so dishonest; they can’t help appreciating corruption in others, even when it means they’re getting screwed themselves!

“Yeah, the rich stick together,” the crowds would agree. “Their greed and dishonesty is the glue. They know: today it’s you getting caught with your hand in the till. Tomorrow it might be me. So let’s not be too hard on one another.

“Ha, ha, what a joke they are!”

In today’s first reading, the prophet Amos uses a different tactic to decry the rich. Instead of humor, Amos straight out lambasts them for “trampling on the needy,” and exploiting poor farmers. They’re so eager to make money, Amos charged; they can’t wait till the Sabbath ends so they can resume their dirty work. Then first chance they get, the crooks manipulate currencies and rig scales in their favor and short-change the buyer. They sell shoddy products and underpay workers. God will never forget such crimes, Amos angrily declares.

Our responsorial psalm agrees with the prophet. The psalmist reminds us that God is not on the side of the rich, but of the poor. In fact God so honors the lowly that (S)he considers them royalty. “He seats them with princes” the psalmist says. Yahweh rescues the lowly from their greedy exploiters.

So Jesus ridicules the rich with humor, while Amos wrings his hands over their crimes with righteous indignation. Both approaches highlight the basic truth put so memorably by Jesus when he says in today’s reading from Luke that we have to choose between money and the biblical God who champions the poor. It’s one or the other. We can’t serve two masters.

“So be like the rich guys in today’s story,” Jesus adds with a twinkle in his eye. He searches the crowd for the pickpockets, the “lame” and “blind” beggars. He looks for the hookers and tax collectors.

“Stick together,” he says. Then he winks. “And that dishonest money you depend on . . . Spread it around and help us all out.

“Better yet, give it to the Resistance Movement and you’ll get one of those rich guys’ houses when the Romans are gone and the Kingdom comes.”

Everyone laughs.