"Francis declared that “land, housing and work are increasingly unavailable to the majority’ of the world’s population,” but said “If I talk about this, some will think that the Pope is communist.”I'm not of the Roman Catholic faith, but I am one of the catholic (universal) Christian belief. With that said, Jesus could have wiped out poverty when he was here with one swoop of the hand, but his said "the poor will always be with you"!
“They don’t understand that love for the poor is at the centre of the Gospel,” he said. “Demanding this isn’t unusual, it’s the social doctrine of the church.”
Matthew 26:11 (ESV) "For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me."It's sad, but poverty is a result of man's original sin.
Gen 3:17b "cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground...".The pope seems to want to "fix" the penalty that God put into place by forced "love".... taxes!
Did Jesus come to wipe out poverty? That's a key question. Obviously, by his statement that wasn't his purpose. Jesus did come the "save" the poor, the rich, the weak and the powerful, as well as anyone else! The "poor" were no more important than were those who were wealthy, although the wealthy had a responsibility to put the Lord above their wealth! That was no different than the poor. Rather than seeking riches here, their wealth lies in heaven!
Matthew 6:19-20 (ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."There are various thoughts on what it means to be "poor". The government has set a minimum income as "the "poverty level". For the average (family of 4), the poverty level in the United States in $24,000. That's $460 a month or $11.50 per hour. That's pitiful, but on a global scale it's not poverty. Nearly all of the "poor" in America have in-door plumbing, some free health care, plenty to eat, electric power, heat and even color televisions. Growing up I was living below the poverty level much of my life... and didn't even know it!
In contrast the sub-Saharan income in Africa is said to be $315 per year! Whose truly poor here? Americans are rich on a global scale and few go hungry. In Africa most people hunger!
In New York City those in a soup line at a kitchen for the poor were interviewed. Nearly everyone said that they had color television, DVD players, cell phones and most modern conveniences. "Why were they in the food line?, they were asked. "Because it's free! was often the response.
As long as we have our needs met, we are blessed! I was blessed when I was growing up. At my thirtieth-year class reunion one "girl" from my class said "I always felt sorry for you because you were so poor!". I was surprised. I didn't realize that others saw me as poor! I went hungry at times, always wore hand-me-downs and lived in an old home, but we made it! Life was a challenge, but the Lord provided!
Our focus must always be on our "treasures in heaven". As long as our hope is in the Lord our needs will be met. There is no need for treasures here on earth because God will provide for our needs! Having things of comfort now I consider myself "rich". Riches are relative as well. Some of my neighbors would laugh at my possessions, but I'm so grateful for what I have! Wealth will be of no use to me in heaven where the streets are paved with gold. I think I'll leave mine behind and hope that family never fights for those lousy crumbs which I leave behind!
Because we "shall always have the poor" mean that we should have no concern for those in poverty?
Luke 18:22 (ESV) "When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”We are to help the poor, but that's not what saves us! We are saved by changing gods! We give up our idol (riches) and follow Jesus! It's not the concern for the poor which impresses God, but the condition of our hearts! Remembering that poverty is a consequence of mankind's disrespectful for God, we deserve poverty, but because God is gracious, he still encourages us to help them. If we remember the story of Ruth, Boaz left some grain in the field for poor Ruth to harvest to feed her family. Because Ruth was fed, not made wealthy, she lived to be the ancestor of Jesus! Because God gave Boaz a generous heart Ruth was able to WORK for her needs, not to become wealthy, but for staples.
Now, back to the Pope. He said "love for the poor is at the centre of the Gospel". That's not true. That's a socialistic concept of scripture called "social justice". What is the centre of the Gospel? It's the love of God! We show our love for God by loving others, everybody, not just the poor! The Roman Catholic leader said “If I talk about this, some will think that the Pope is communist.” That's true! I do think of him that way, but also something worse. His view on poverty being the centre (sic) of the Gospel is heretical. It's taking the focus from God's mercy and puts it on our actions! God isn't impressed with our actions, but the condition of our hearts. Our giving is not the focus, but is a result of our love of God.
Some theologians are just not comfortable that scripture does not demand charity, but that charity is a fruit of the Spirit (love). Because we love we are charitable:
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.Charity is the act of giving. "Charity" is credited as "love" if it's done from the heart, not by coercion.
1 Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.You can see that "giving" is not all of charity. Charity is out of love. The demand that we give and we obey is not charity, it's being obedient to The Law! Grace is what saves, not obedience (other than loving God), but obedience is what we DO to show our love of God! The papal edict on helping the poor instead of showing our love for God is the same type of false worship that the Pharisees, those "vipers", had.
"Social justice" is not at the center of the gospel. Although the Pope said “Demanding this isn’t unusual...". Demands are not charity! That's a distortion and IS socialism, and on top of that Christian legalism!. Again, if Jesus was so concerned about poverty, he could have instituted "The Great Society" instead of Lyndon Johnson! Instead, Jesus was crucified and died with only five friends at his side. He was destitute! The center of the Gospel is just what the word "Gospel" means! It's the "message about Jesus"! Jesus seems to me to be the "center of the Gospel"! How could the religious leader of the world's largest Christian body not know that! He surely does! It seems that he does have a communist agenda just as he implied.