Going over the fiscal cliff will hurt poor more than rich: Jesus explains

 If you want to understand basically anything about politics, what you need to do is watch the money.  Jesus shows us why: “Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury.” (Mark12:41a)

Everybody knows the touching biblical story of the “widow’s mite”

Poverty rates for women and children hit 17 year high

where the poor widow puts all she has into the temple treasury. Jesus contrasts her generosity in giving out of her poverty to the gifts of the rich, who give only give out of their abundance. (Mark 12: 42-44)

But back up just one verse and you read that Jesus went to the temple and sat down where he could watch the money. Jesus watched what people did (and didn’t do) with their money—that’s how Jesus knew what the widow was doing and what the rich were doing. Jesus watched the money.

So in our current “fiscal cliff” crisis, if you watch the money what you see is that automatic cuts in programs and the loss of tax relief occur. This is not just losing tax cuts for the rich, but for the poor and shrinking middle class.

In fact, that’s a great way to read the Bible overall. Try it. Just watch what people do with their money and then go to the Bible and underline all the texts about wealth and poverty. The message of the Gospel will open before you like a flower in a warm spring rain. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God…Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” (Luke 6:20)

About Susan Thistlethwaite

I am President Emerita and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary; I write for the public here and in local papers. I am interested in what I call "public theology," or how deeper meaning is made and contested in the public square.
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