Today’s Bible readings

If the United States were a Christian nation, I’d be nervous after taking a look at Head God Guy George W. Bush’s budget proposals. The budget, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman puts it, “really does take food from the mouths of babes.” The plan makes it harder for working families to get food stamps. Working families, mind you. People who put in long hours but can’t afford rent, utility bills and the luxury of food.

That’s just one small, nasty aspect of a budget that ups military spending and lines the pockets, once again, of the wealthy. The budget’s call for an end to limiting exemptions for taxpayers with incomes more than $1 million means an average tax cut of around $19,000 per millionaire—more than many working poor families earn annually.

More for the rich. Less for the poor. Hmm. What would Jesus say?

Only one way to find out. Let’s crack open the Good Book. While everyone knows that the Judeo-Christian Bible is largely themed around the dangers of sexual perversion and the rewards of rugged individualism, it does contain a moment or two of filler. Enjoy.

Amos 5:11

Because you impose heavy rent on the poor and exact a tribute of grain from them, though you have built houses of well-hewn stone, yet you will not live in them. … For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, you who distress the righteous and accept bribes and turn aside the poor at the gate.

At such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.

Mark 10:17

A man ran up to him and knelt before him, and began asking him, “Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

And Jesus said to him, “… You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not defraud. Honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up,” he said.

Jesus felt love for him, and said, “One thing you lack. Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor. You shall have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me.”

At these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.

Jesus said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. … It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

James 2:2

For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand over there or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?

Listen, my beloved brethren, did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him?

But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?

Proverbs 22:9

He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.