From the first lesson from scripture in the daily lectionary for this, the Feast of St. Barnabas: “The rich person toils to amass a fortune, and when he rests he fills himself with his dainties. The poor person toils to make a meager living, and if ever he rests he becomes needy.”
“One who loves gold will not be justified; one who pursues money will be led astray by it. Many have come to ruin because of gold, and their destruction has met them face to face. It is a stumbling block to those who are avid for it, and every fool will be taken captive by it.”(Ecclesiasticus 31:3-11)
I wrote yesterday that there is an interaction between “Politics and the Kingdom of God” and that people of faith should really look very carefully at the positions and policies of candidates and parties before casting their votes. The verses above from the Apocrypha are just one more example of God”s “preferential option for the poor” which one can find throughout the entire Bible — Old Testament, New, and (for those Christians who read it) the Apocrypha.
St. Barnabas, whom we remember today, is known by two things primarily. First, he was a wealthy man but apparently also quite generous since the book of Acts tells us that, shortly after he was called into the ministry of apostleship, he sold a piece of property and “laid the money at the apostles’ feet.” In other words, he was generous in sharing what he had for the good of all. Secondly, Barnabas was called a “son of encouragement” because of his bridge building efforts between the apostles and his ability to bring people together.
Very few of our politicians today are — or ever have been — poor. Unfortunately, it takes a certain amount of money and privilege to afford the kind of education necessary to be qualified for political leadership and certainly it takes way too much money to mount political campaigns. Candidates have often made a good deal of money before they every hit the campaign trail and others make money by writing books and going on speaking tours for which they are remunerated handsomely.
For example, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are, by any standards, wealthy people. The question is, how did they obtain that wealth and how did they use it once possessing it. No doubt, there will be scrutiny of all this during the next five months of the political process. To get us started, one measure of how one’s wealth has been accumulated and how is has been distributed, in our day, is the information contained on a federal tax return. One presidential candidate in this year’s race has released volumes of tax returns and information. The other has not.
Guess which is which.
I wonder why?