It is unacceptable that at a time set aside to celebrate our blessings that an increasing number of our sisters and brothers are living in poverty.
Poverty is not an abstract concept; it is a reality being lived out by millions of our fellow citizens. The recent report in the Dallas Morning News that one in every 15 people is living in poverty is not only shocking, it is a personal tragedy for those children, women, men and elderly who are impacted. Many of us have been touched by this plague of poverty, if not personally, then through a relative, neighbor or friend who is struggling to keep their head above water in this economy.
A day does not go by that I do not receive a letter from an individual or family seeking help. The present poverty rate is the highest in the 35 years that the U.S. Census Bureau has been keeping records. As Christians we cannot stand idly by while this plague continues. And, we must include immigrants who have been demonized and treated as pariahs in our country. Our concern should not be with their legal status but with their status as human beings who are seeking to achieve what many obtained by accident of birth.
Of course, our faith compels us to directly assist those in need by sharing from our own resources, but that is not enough. The government can and must do more to address poverty, yet our leaders in Congress and the administration are sacrificing the poor on the altar of their own self-interest.
Our government leaders must restore our nation to greatness by setting aside their personal agendas and acting now to address this malignancy that is devastating our society. To hold poverty hostage to politics is unconscionable.
This Thanksgiving we should indeed thank God for our abundant blessings but let us also recall the words of Jesus: “The first (of all the Commandments) is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
I pray God to look kindly upon you and yours this Thanksgiving season.
Bishop of Dallas
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