St. Peter, whose picture adorns our mural, provides the pretext for our Gospel reading for the Nineteenth Monday of ordinary time, Matthew 17:24.
The collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Peter replied, “Yes.” When Peter came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” Peter said, “From foreigners,” Jesus replied, “The subjects are exempt.”
Government regulation and taxation falls upon the foreigner, at least those who are foreign to us. For the rich, the poor need regulation and taxes. For poor and minorities, it is the rich. Liberals push taxes and regulations upon the rich. Conservatives push the reverse. We are leaves blowing in the wind.
An argument broke out among the apostles about who was the greatest. Jesus told them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors. Among you, it shall not be so. The greatest among you is to be as the youngest, the leader as the servant. Who is greater, the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table! I am among you as the one who serves.” Koine Greek has no punctuation. Context gives the punctuation.
Conservatives believe corporate CEOs, and business owners are by nature good and do not need regulation. Catholics believe the writings of John Locke, “Nemo iudex in causa sua,” “No man is a fair judge in his own case,” Second Treatise on Government, Chapter 2, section 13.” That includes the corporate CEO, our religious leaders, the union chiefs, and our political leaders.
The conservative Vice Presidential candidate voted against this basic principle in reference to the Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act, H.R.3269 as, “On the Issues,” an unbiased reporting agency reports. He believes some people as basically good and can set their own salaries. Our Catholic tradition teaches differently.
We have tri-partite government because we believe everybody needs regulation, in particular the regulator. We believe God created man in his image and likeness. St. Augustine, the man in the mural relates, we are also born with original sin.
We are imperfect. Our leaders are no different from the rest of us. We find the words in Deuteronomy 16:20, “צֶדֶק צֶדֶק you will pursue.” The first צֶדֶק refers to justice, the second to charity. The second on the conservative party ticket requires his staff to read Ayn Rand. “Every man is an end in himself. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of life. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism.”
In keeping with the social nature of man, the good of each individual is necessarily related to the common good, which in turn can be defined only in reference to the human person. Catholic Catechism Section 1905
The common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. It is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on. Catholic Catechism Section 1908
The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. The earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men. Catholic Catechism, Section 2402
The universal destination of goods remains primordial. Catholic Catechism, Section 2403
“In his use of things man should regard the external goods he owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others , in the sense that they can benefit others.” The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of communicating its benefits to others. Catholic Catechism, Section 2405
Political authority has the duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good. Catholic Catechism, Section 2406
The Church refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.” Catholic Catechism, Section 2425.
“The State cannot limit itself to “favoring one portion of the citizens,” the rich and prosperous, nor can it “neglect the other,” which clearly represents the majority of society… “When there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the defenseless and the poor have a claim to special consideration… wage-earners, since they mostly belong to the latter class, should be specially cared for, and protected by the Government.”
“We must first save the unfortunate working people from the cruelty of men of greed, who use human beings as mere instruments for money-making. “The more individuals are defenseless within a given society, the more they require intervention of governmental authority.” “The State has the duty to watch over the common good and to ensure every sector of social life contributes to achieving that good.”
It is truly embarrassing, but the second person on the conservative ticket preaches Ayn Rand, and claims to be Catholic. His teaching is 180 degrees off being Catholic, whose teaching has not changed in two millennia.
Deuteronomy 17 tells us of our leaders, political, religious, and in private enterprise, how they are to remain one of us. To qualify as leader, a person must know the price of a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, and of gasoline, how many homes, cars, and horses he owns.
The Washington Post reports how the lead candidate of the conservative ticket put his Irish setter on the roof of his station wagon for 12 hours. When one abuses animals, it is not long before he abuses people. The conservative candidate for president was the high school bully. The New York Times from 10 May of this year reports how this candidate engaged in bullying. The conservative candidate likes firing people, according to ABC News, from January 9 of this year.
The BBC reports how the conservative candidate for president touts his big oil, off shore drilling plan, not two years and a few months after the Deep Water Horizon Oil disaster, which killed 11 people. If you were a relative of one of those killed, how would you take listening to this presidential candidate saying, “You do not matter; what matters is corporate profits.” How many more people have to die before the conservatives have had enough. I know the answer for me. In John 10, Jesus compares these corporate raiders with robbers. In John 18, Jesus sets the acceptable loss rate at zero. Ezekiel 18:32 agrees. The acceptable loss rate is zero. Now we await to hear the conservative loss rate.
When we say the Pledge of Allegiance we need to understand what a republic is. St. Augustine gives Catholics, our definition in his City of God, Book 2 chapter 21. He compares a republic with a one hundred-piece orchestra. Each piece of the orchestra comes with differing pitches, timbers, and volumes, guided by an orchestra leader to create harmony and concord.
“A republic is the good of the people. A republic is a people with a common understanding of what is right, and who work together to promote the interests of all. The job of St. Augustine’s orchestra conductor is to make sure the tuba does not drown out the flute. That is precisely what we do not see in America today. The results are staggering.
Some 45,000 people die in America as a result of a lack of adequate health care, not counting 8,000 babies in the first year of life, half of which are pre-born. What shall we tell the parents and the relatives of these people? Of the 45,000, “Sorry, you had the bad luck of being born; you no longer matter?” What of the 4,000 pre-born who die, “Sorry, you had the bad luck of being poor. Sorry, you do not matter? What should their response be? An apology for bringing it up?
Paul Ryan supported the Regulation from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act which would have made reasonable regulation of industry much harder, costing tens of thousands of lives. What should we tell the relatives of those losing their lives as a result? Sorry, corporations are people, and you are not? What response should we expect as a result? How many more people must die before the conservatives have had enough? He opposed The Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act of 2012. What should we tell the unemployed? You are unemployed! You are not a corporation. You do not matter?
There were 1,238,490 workplace injuries in 2009. The conservatives tell our children, “Sorry your father suffered. If you are hungry, it is because your father was careless. It is not our problem! If you were that child, or the spouse of that person, how would you respond? We must ask the conservatives, how many people must die before it is enough? We ask you to own up to and defend your culture of death.
“Some 50.2 million people lived in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. Of these individuals, 12.2 million adults and 5.4 million children lived in households with very low food security.” “Torah teaches you to honor your parents.” “If you are hungry it is because your father is a lazy loser. We are the winners. Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well.” What should these children, in America and throughout the world think of those who say this? Are they wrong to spit in our faces? How can we see anything else but the culture of death in the conservatives when they hold these positions?
“We are in debate in Reno,” points out, conservatives preach minimalist government, but without referent as to a required predicate. All want the least government. The socialist believes this is government control of all. The capitalist, the communist, &the anarchist believe this is no government at all. To argue for less than is required argues for incompetence. Nobody argues for that. To argue for more than is required argues for waste. Surely, nobody argues for that. The truth lies in the dirty middle.
The article, “Life is Messy,” says it all. Life is messy. The founder of Capitalism, Adam Smith, wrote his work in England, for the other guys, in 1776. Nothing in our Declaration of Independence, written in the same year, or our Constitution, written a decade later indicates our founding fathers had any clearly defined concept of any economic system. They were right.
Humanae Vitae speaks well. “Sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it.” Our Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “For a failure to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal failure is failure in whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” Section 1857
Voting to promote the poverty and the suffering listed above is a grave matter. Having read this article, you now have full knowledge. Nobody forces you to vote. If you vote for these men, it is with deliberate consent. Unless a fourth category is found, to vote for these men is mortal failure. There are 225 Catholic colleges and universities graduating 70,000 students each year. There are also 25 Catholic law schools. We have the ability to create a third alternative, a moral choice for public office. Failure to act in this regard is in itself a moral failure.
The article, “The Sacrament is the μυστήριον” says it well.” Something happens on our altar. Jesus dies on that cross, again, for the first time, each time, and we die with him. We become new people. We become Jesus for the world, showing what our resurrection means and how the world can join us, if it but wills. We must remember what is going on at that altar. A man is dying, and we are dying with him, nothing more and nothing less. As a result, this candidate and those who support him show by their actions that they do not know what is happening on that altar. They need to reconsider their participation in the Eucharistic feast until they show they understand what is happening upon that altar.