My friend, Mark Shea, writes about the epithet being slung by the Right against anyone who dares to express even the least bit of compassion for those less fortunate than the majority of Americans (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea.). I understand his confusion because I have had the same sort of names slung at me and whenever that happens I cannot help but think, "Catholic. Disdained by All, Loved by ONE".
In fact, I am thinking that might make a darn good bumper sticker.
As the daughter of both immigrants and old-west style cowboys/farmers I absolutely understand the dilemma that faces most Christians today. We have been taught to love the poor, to give generously and to not judge them because whatsoever we do to them is what we are doing to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Mother Theresa often spoke of seeing the Face of Jesus in the faces of the dying of Calcutta. Of course, she also spoke of seeing Jesus, cleverly disguised, in the faces of those sent to try and shut her down every day or in the faces of people like Christopher Hutchens who hated her guts and called her an Albanian Midget as a kind of groovy-left-wing-artistic-ethnic-slur.
Side note: I wonder what he said when he met Jesus after his death? I am wondering if, "Oh heck, I was wrong" did him any good at all?
Our dilemma is, of course, caused by the fact that government programs for the poor rarely do the good they are meant to do. They become bulky, bogged down in bureaucratic details and the cost of 'doing good' begins to far out weight the actual good done. It ends up appearing to be a situation where hard working, mind-your-own-business, Sunday Church Goin' Americans are asked to foot the bill for people who spend their day getting high, getting drunk and refusing to work.
The dilemma (which, by now, should probably be capitalized as The Dilemma) is further complicated by the fact that there are segments of Society that look to the rest of us to bail them out all the time. They seem to think that, no matter what the situation, someone else will foot the bill. They tend to view the welfare check and the food stamps (small as it is) as 'their' money. It is NOT 'their' money. It is MY money. I am giving it to them because, quite frankly, I want to do good and I want to avoid my home town becoming another Calcutta. I do not want to have to step over bodies as I walk down the sidewalk because people in my home town do not want to take care of their own.
So we have this situation where those of us who want to make sure that people are housed, clothed and fed are made to seem like dolts. Our kindness is regarded as stupidity.
It is not stupidity. It is Being Catholic.
We have been instructed by Our Savior to do and behave in a certain manner. He did not say to us, "By the way, only do this when you feel like it or when it is fashionable. DO IT". He suggested that people should work for their keep but He told US to treat them as if they do, no matter how they act. In fact, our behavior cannot be predicated on THEIR behavior other than to shake the dust from our feet when spreading the Good News.
In other words, if someone refuses to listen to us about the Teachings of Jesus Christ and the absolute necessity of The Eucharist for Eternal Life we do not stand there and BEG them (either to listen or to Come Back). We love them, we pray for them but we move on.
The Corporal Works of Mercy are also required of us. Jesus gave us a big ol' heads up when He flat out said, "Not everyone who says 'Lord Lord'"....remember? Stating your are 'saved' isn't enough. Being a Baptized Catholic isn't enough. You gotta do some DAMAGE to the Devil while you are on this earth and what is one of the best ways to do that?
Tend to The Flock.
I'll be honest, I get awfully tired of trying to discern who is a conman and who is in need. It is one of the reasons I lend my support to organizations that deal directly with the poorest of the poor - St Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic Charities, Modesto Gospel Mission to name a few. It is one of the reasons I am passionate about supporting our troops in the field.
Side Note: We are still at WAR, everyone and if you are not sending baby wipes to the guys about to hit summer in Afghanistan then what the hell is wrong with you?
I am proud to be a member of The Church that Jesus founded, no matter how stupid and horrible Her members have acted (and will continue to act - they are people, for heaven's sake, so why should anyone be surprised when they behave like idiots? Have you looked in the mirror lately?). I recognize that I cannot please everyone with my politics but you know what? I can ask not to be screamed at or called names.
Not that it will help....but it couldn't hurt.