Would Jesus object to federal budget cuts?

2/28/2006

AS I SEE IT….                     

By Billy McCord

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells about the Son of Man coming and separating the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. In verse 41 of the parable, the King will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

 “They also will answer, Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment…” (NIV).

As I read the budget cuts made by President Bush, I could not help but think about this scripture. Not too many months ago, I wrote on the least and the less and hoped against hope that our government would not forget those who suffered the most in this country. With the budget-cut proposals I read in the press, this very thing is about to happen.

I will be the first to admit that something must be done about the runaway budget and deficit spending. This country continues to spend money as though it will never have to be repaid, which I feel makes for an unstable economy. The question we must ask ourselves is must the rich get richer and the poor poorer in America where we have abundance? Clearly, I think not.

As I reviewed the budget proposals, I noticed a cut in Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare will cost more and pay less. Reimbursements to nursing homes and doctors will be cut. Why not make these cuts? Old and disabled people and especially those in nursing homes will not vote. They can easily be ignored.

But Jesus said, “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

Those who make these decisions must one day answer to God. Cuts in Medicaid should be easy to make. After all they will only hurt those in society who are very poor and they rarely vote. It should be a cinch to cut their benefits, especially if those making these cuts do not take Jesus seriously.

Another program set to be scaled down provides milk and food to needy babies. The cry of hungry babies cannot be heard through the walls of the White House, the governor’s mansions and the comfortable homes of members of Congress or for that matter through the walls of our homes. The cries of these children cannot be heard so why not cut their funds for food on which to survive?

Before this is done, the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 19:14 should be considered: “Jesus said, let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”

Also, remember the words of the Master when he said, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

Jesus always could be found with the poor, the sick, the children, the less and the least. We had better be. We are indeed a nation with abundance and we need to make sure the abundance is shared with those who are much in need.

McCord is a retired public school administrator and pastor of the Pittsboro and Shady Grove UM churches in Calhoun County. Contact him at billymc@tycom.net.