This week the nation has had the opportunity to see a side of Governor Romney we don’t see very often. He offered a clear, concise, unadulterated position- and that position happened to be a shot at the 47% of people who he claims will vote for President Obama regardless of what he says or does because they believe “they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” (For a full story and video, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser please see who initially broke the story.) He bases his argument in the idea that the President Obama has bought the votes of nearly half the population with such sneaky, underhanded tricks as subsidized student loans, school breakfast and lunch programs, care for veterans, and Medicare.
There is a great deal found within Scripture we might argue about. We can debate parables and argue over translation or context or even simply dismiss certain precepts as no longer relevant in our lives. But this is the piece Governor Romney seems to miss- and in his defense, he’s not the only one. Over and over and over again God loves the poor. And over and over and over again God points, so should we.
This is not a debatable point: not in the Levitical code, not in the Old Testament Prophets, not in the letters of Paul, not in the other Epistles, and certainly not in the teachings of Jesus. This preferential option for the poor is so crucial to our lives as people of faith that we are told even our salvation depends on it. Jesus doesn’t mince words when he says:
You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. (Matthew 25:41-43, NRSV)
Yet Governor Romney continues on in the fundraiser video to say that it is not his “job to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” (emphasis mine)
But the truth of the matter is it is his job. It’s all of our jobs. We are all responsible for feeding, housing, welcoming, visiting, and healing. We are responsible as if our lives depend on it, because they do. Perhaps the Governor would do well to remember Jesus’ final admonish in Matthew 25; “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matthew 25:45)