No to Budget Cuts for Human Needs

Yesterday, I participated in a Webinar on “The Deficit Deal Explained.” It was sponsored by the Coalition on Human Needs and Community Action Partnership, both advocates for the vulnerable among us. Ample resources plus an audio of the webinar can be found at

I had several impressions. First, the so-called budget deal merely kicked the can down the road. Secondly, I am even more fearful that the budget cuts will severely affect the most vulnerable among us. Congress seems to be hell-bent to give even more tax protection the rich and wealthy, especially those who contribute to their campaign coffers. The military-industrial-congressional complex is on a roll and multinationals are in the driver’s seat. [Historical note: Eisenhower decided to cut the “congressional” tab out of the speech. He should have left it in.]

The Catholic bishops, evangelicals like Jim Wallis, and Jewish leaders like Rabbi Waskow and Rabbi Learner have all been praying, fasting and campaigning to keep budget reform off the back of the most vulnerable among us. The Judeo-Christian tradition clearly calls us to look beyond our own wants and needs toward the common good. YHWH [Don’t report me to Rome for using this “word.”] is the God of Justice. Yahweh always looks after the poor, the orphans and the widows—those who have no land and therefore no clout. The excerpt from the Responsorial Psalm 145 in today’s liturgy is a great example of this:

R. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
The LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!

Jesus reiterates the justice of Abba in Luke 4:

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.  He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”


Religion/spirituality is about God and life and life in God. Eternal life now means that God wants us to have live and have life in abundance NOW. God wants this for all people—rich and poor, white and black, Jew and Greek, gay and straight.

Jesus did not preach nor endorse the prosperity gospel. He preached to the crowds—the poor, oppressed, the disenfranchised. God loves all people but has a special heart for the poor, the oppressed, the widows, the orphans. This is what we call the fundamental option for the poor.

Our elected officials want to put prayer back into the schools but the vast majority of them do not want to put Judeo-Christian values into budgetary matters. When are our elected officials going to get hearts of flesh?

Paul reminds us that we live en Christo. “Christ lives, now not I, but Christ lives within me.” Paul is referring to the Christ, the Risen Jesus living in us through the power of the Spirit. Jesus challenged the Roman Empire and the Priestly leaders. Paul did the same. Are we willing to take action steps to keep budget reform off the backs of the most vulnerable among us? Are we willing to stand up and be counted for Gospel values that go far beyond prayer in schools and Ten Commandment bumper stickers on our cars? If you are, check out the action steps on the Coalition on Human Needs website cited above.

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