THANKS FOR THE blessing of Sojourners magazine. However, the cover "The issue isn’t welfare reform. It’s poverty" (March-April 1997), did not live up to its title. The discussion started and remained inside modern beliefs about individual wealth, which are responsible for both the idea of welfare and its demise. Then at the end Sharon Daly added something new: "Helping the poor is not an option for extra credit, it’s a requirement." Sadly, this is where the article ended.
St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, and St. Thomas Aquinas agree that "Jesus Christ wills that we give to the poor, not the tenth only, but the whole of our superfluity [luxury]." "Remember that the superfluities of the rich are the necessaries of the poor."
Under the gospel rule, any poor soul may demand any Christian’s luxuries until every poor soul’s necessities of food, clothing, shelter, and health care are secured.
Unless I understand the gospel better than these three saints, I have three options:
- Stop believing Jesus Christ is God.
- Surrender all wealth superfluous to the necessities of life.
- Keep my luxuries and confess the sin.
I suggest the most fruitful starting point of any discussion be the gospel.