Monday, March 14, 2011

The Cainsian School of economics

Since the economics down-turn many of the commentators seemed to have locked of the phrase "Keynsian economics," without any real idea who John Maynard Keynes was or what he taught. As a priest my fear is that I hear more and more people taking the position I would call "Cainsian Economics". In the book of Genesis after Cain kills Abe,l God asks him where his brother is, and he answers with the famous response, "Am I my brothers keepers?"

We forget that this not a legitimate question but the dodge of a murderer. And the answer to his question is, "yes!" We cannot simply take the attitude of Cain and try to wash our hands of responsibility to care for others especially the poor.

Prayer, fasting, and works of charity are at the center of our observance of Lent. Today's gospel reminds us that these acts are essential to our salvation. Whenever we do them for the least, we do them for Christ, and when we don't do them for the least we don't do it for Christ. To put it simply Jesus takes the way we treat the poor and needy personally.

Perhaps it's time to go back and re-memorize the two great lists of our tradition: the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. So here they are.

Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit those in prison
Bury the dead

Admonish sinners
Instruct the ignorant
Counsel the doubtful
Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently
Forgive injuries
Pray for the living and the dead