Why is it that we never see Matthew 25:31-46 plastered on Government buildings? Why is it we don't have this Scripture passage etched on to granite plaques in every Church building?
We tend to default to the Ten Commandments or the Greatest Commandment but this is the real bread and butter of what makes the Kingdom of God relevant here on earth today.
I want to paint for you a picture of why we dont' have more feeding of the hungry, clothing of the naked, sheltering of the homeless, healthcare that is accessible to all, and a prison system that really treats crime not just illegalities ( I will explain that difference)
For the United States to truly call ourselves a "Christian Country" which is not listed ANYWHERE in the constitution, by the way, we need to ask ourselves why we haven't made a practical plan to address these issues as a nation or a global society. I hate to say it this way, but it's hyper-capitalism that prevents us from achieving more justice. Healthy capitalism would serve more people and allow more of us, everyday citizens, to do much more in fulfilling social justice.
Let's paint it with numbers. Really big numbers.
"When I was hungry you fed me"
Globally, to solve world hunger it would take approximately 30 billion dollars a year according to the Borgen Project. The World Economic Forum suggests 116 billion. Either number is still a manageable number when it comes to global economic expenses. Why don't we feed the hungry? It's political fear of disenfranchising workers. However, well-fed workers are more productive. Full stomachs make people smarter, and healthcare begins in the gut! So maybe we can fix this problem?
"When I was a stranger, you welcomed me"
Here is a staggering number for you. The Economic losses imposed by stringent immigration policies drain our global economic productivity of 100 Trillion dollars. Read that again! 100 TRILLION with a T. So, if we welcomed the stranger a little more often, and do so legally, we could generate insane amounts of economic benefit. Why don't we? That's a question I can't answer, but it's worth finding out.
"When I was naked you clothed me"
This literally costs us NOTHING! NOTHING! I give away sweaters every winter because I find I am tired of them or that they've faded enough to not work in my professional setting. I wear most of my other clothing to the point of unusable. So I happily contribute to organizations that help clothe the naked. Places like China produce goods so cheaply (and inhumanely) that we could clothe nearly every man, woman, and child on Earth. Why don't we?
"I was ill and you cared for me"
In our American society, we are the only democratic republic on earth that doesn't provide a universal healthcare system. 71 of the 195 nations of the world provide a form of universal healthcare. Yes, it's taxed, yes it's accessible to everyone, the long wait times are only regarding elective procedures, and you know what never causes someone in those 71 countries to fall into poverty? Healthcare costs. Here in the USA, the Census Bureau reports that 11.2 million individuals are pushed into poverty from medical expenses each year. Compare that to the number of people in deep poverty (where income is less than 50% of the poverty line) and that number is 17 million. We could solve the majority of the poverty problem in this country with a universal healthcare plan.
Depending on where you get your information, the cost of such a program in the United States would be between 1.8 Trillion dollars and 2.5 Trillion dollars annually. Now look back on a few prior lines in this writing. Do you see 100 TRILLION dollars mentioned as being LOST due to terrible immigration policies? So let's stop pretending there isn't money for such a program here. It's there, we just need to define where it's coming from and how to justifiable attain it.
Additionally, we are experiencing the worst death toll from a disease in over a century. COVID-19 has brought our society to its knees and we need to think about a few things before we start whining about bars, restaurants, gyms, etc. closing down.
My resident immunologist reminds me that for there to be "herd immunity" at least 70% of the population needs to be immune to the virus. If we don't have widespread vaccination, we will never come close to achieving that goal. Here is why:
70% of the U.S. total population is around 200 million people. We know that folks with any pre-existing or comorbidities are at more fatal risk. Here are some shocking numbers:
30 million people have heart disease in this country.
37 Million people have lung disease (Asthma, COPD, Emphysema, chronic bronchitis).
49 Million people are over age 65
99 million people are overweight (70 million of them are obese)
Understanding that we need to reach 200 million people immune responsive when with the overlap of the above conditions, there are roughly 150 million Americans with an elevated risk of death. Do we really want to "let nature take its course?"
Maybe the best way for us to care for these people is to STAY HOME! Work from home, do everything possible to mitigate the virus? That's not surrendering anything, its empowering our choices to do the right thing. If you want a real expert's opinion, Check out Dr. Michael Osterholm's CBS interview. He has been 100% accurate in this virus's behavior and no one else, in my opinion, has taken a more cautious and calculated approach than he. I say let's go for his plan and really take care of the ill.
"When I was in prison you visited me."
If we visited prisons here is what we might see.
A culture where sexual abuse is rampant. I mean so utterly dense it's sickening. Abuse between prisoners and abuse by employees of the facilities.
A prison system that has enslaved more people right now for the punishment of non-violent crimes than the number of slaves under ownership in 1850. We fought the bloodiest war in history to end slavery, so why is it still a punishment for some crimes?
We would see wage abuse. Prisoners are often outsourced to corporate work at wages of 93 cents and $4.73 per day.
And let's talk about the prison population. According to a 2018 report from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 2 million adults were being held in America’s prisons and jails. Thats like locking up the entire cities of San Antonio and Dallas, Texas combined. Worldwide, the United States holds 655 people out of every 100,000 in prison. The only country that comes close to that is El Salvador at 590 per 100,000. Keep in mind, El Salvador has 325 million fewer people than the USA. Maybe we should pay more attention to our prison system?
Now that the numbers are spinning in your head, look at the work we have to do. Look at the goals we should strive to achieve. I'm going to mention that the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas tells us that the kingdom of God exists right here, right now, and it's only available to those who are willing to work for it. For those with eye's to see it. Guess what? We gotta work for it (and I need to do better about it myself.) The corporal works of mercy above are really outlined in the Catholic Social Teachings of the Church, there is a good reason why those beliefs are doctrine.
Pray with me that we find a way to achieve greater unity through addressing these problems. When we unify in defense of our beliefs, we find that the Kingdom of God is everywhere.