By TIM MANNELLO
Jesus went up on a mountainside and he began to teach. "Accursed are the poor for they shall be sent to the back of the breadline! Please tell me: What IS their problem? Now, don't get me wrong, I did not have it easy either. My mother was pregnant with me when she had to go with my Dad Joseph to Bethlehem to be taxed (yeah, census, you say! Think we're stupid?). You've heard the story; I was born in a manger because there was no place for us in the inn. And oh, the gold soon ran out and, hey, you try eating frankincense and myrrh.
I was mortified when we had to make the poor man's offering at the Temple. We were dirt poor. But we picked ourselves up by our sandal straps and here I am on a speaking tour of the country with crowds hanging on my every word. Eat your heart out, Joel Osteen. If I could make it, so can self-styled victims who are dependent on government and pay no taxes. The fact is that the poor you will always have with you. That's the will of my Father. God helps those who help themselves.
Just look at these welfare queens begging on the side of the road for food. Next thing you know the government will be handing out food stamps, unemployment compensation, and nutrition programs for malnourished poor kids---many of whom are fat! Are they, bottom line, just too lazy to achieve the Judean Dream? Listen up: Woe to you who are poor. It's your own fault you've made bad decisions. You're just flat out lazy. You have already received your comfort. Stop moaning and mooching. Get a job!
You're right, my beloved rich: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a poor man to enter the kingdom of God. You cannot have two masters. You cannot serve the poor and God. Poverty and poor people are detestable in my Father's sight. Stash away as much as you can and do not squander any of your hard earned money especially through taxes to help those with little. Charity, especially government handouts, breeds dependency.
And you, my Americans whom I see as my followers in the centuries to come, you are indeed a Christian nation. So don't go on a guilt trip about your wealth, even if some of you who are rich do things like get government grants or loans to put yourself or your kids through college, receive unemployment checks, have your parents' nursing home bills paid by Medicaid, work in industries that are government funded or get huge subsidies to give you a leg up. That's not mooching. You made that...what the poor get---that's a different story. The honest truth is, my beloved rich, everybody else (including the poor) wants to be wealthy just like you-no matter what they say. Truth is, they just want "stuff" your stuff.
I have come to save the entrepreneurial rich, not the parasitic poor, the makers not the takers. Like Cain, you who are rich are not your brother's keeper. If the poor really wanted to, they could make it on their own. As our fathers have taught us all too well, generosity, not love of money, is the root of all evil. So, a contribution of cans of food you don't really want to a food kitchen here and there and a buck at the supermarket to get the hungry a bite to eat at special seasons when you put on a few well-earned pounds, well that's okay if you really want to, but strictly optional. Actually, that's more than enough. Just don't get carried away and really help the poor get on their feet. You'll never change their free-loading ways.
As your Mega-Church prosperity preachers assure you, God's deepest desire is for you to be rich. "Apologizing for wealth is almost an insult to God." Follow their example. I hope they could just get people to stop misquoting me. I never said: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." Or "Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor." And for sure, I don't subscribe to what was later done in my name: "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had." The author of Acts knew better.
Trust me, the poor are not worth it. Lord knows, no one really wants to become poor for the kingdom of heaven. That's dumb. So come to me, you who are rich and famous, and those of you who promote the cause of the rich and famous, and I will give you rest. Indeed, blessed are you who are rich and keep the poor in their place, for yours is the kingdom of heaven. Yes, as I have often said: "Whatever you do for the richest of my brethren, you do unto me."
Mannello is a Williamsport consultant and trainer on organizational development, customer service and employee relations.